Thanksgiving 2021: How Long Will Leftovers Be Safe to Eat?

by Shelby Scott

If you Outsiders have family that’s anything like mine, then Thanksgiving promises nearly a month’s worth of leftovers. And not nearly enough people to eat them in time before going bad. Now, the weeks fly by and the gap closes between us and the November holiday. As such, we wanted to provide insight for storing your Thanksgiving leftovers and when to throw them out.

Depending on how you plan to store your leftovers, food can last anywhere between four days all the way up to six months.

In general, Fox News reports the FDA recommends storing food in shallow containers. Said items should get packaged within two hours of actually cooking the food. The outlet reports it is the best way to keep bacteria from forming. Further, the national agriculture and food safety authority states it’s okay to put your food away while still hot.

Here’s where storage specifics come into play. As for the iconic turkey, the USDA states that cooked turkey can be refrigerated for three to four days. Meanwhile, they do not have suggestions regarding freezing cooked turkey. And as for the main course’s side dish, stuffing should be eaten or frozen, again, within three or four days. It can last in the freezer for two to three months.

How Best to Store Your Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

Turkey and stuffing are great and all. But for this Outsider, it’s truly the sides and appetizers that get me buzzed ahead of Thanksgiving. Therefore, they’re also the most important foods to store correctly; again, in my own opinion.

Like the above food items, your favorite Thanksgiving veggies and starches should also be good to last refrigerated for up to four days. These include mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, and the like.

The next Thanksgiving must is a doozy as you probably either love it or hate it. For me, it’s always been a holiday staple. According to Fox News, homemade versus canned cranberry sauces have very different shelf lives and it’s important to take that into account when storying your Thanksgiving leftovers.

With its unique texture, the USDA does not recommend freezing either type of cranberry sauce. Ultimately, when thawed, the sweet colorful treat becomes all too watery. As to storing homemade cranberry sauce, authorities state its shelf life should last seven to 10 days. Meanwhile, canned cranberry sauce has the potential to last in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Now, almost as important as the turkey dinner itself? The gravy. The USDA reports gravy may only get stored in the fridge for three to four days. Otherwise, if frozen, it can last up to six months.

And, as always, last comes dessert. Thanksgiving abounds in its variety of pies, while pumpkin and apple often take the lead for popularity. According to the outlet, various pies will have various shelf lives as we can expect. For pies containing egg, cream, or chiffon, these will only last in refrigeration for up to four days. Meanwhile, fruit-based pies can handle room temperature for a day or so, but will last refrigerated for up to a week.

Now that you’re aware, we’re sure you’ll have a happy and healthy Thanksgving holiday.