How Long Is Deli Turkey Good For?

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With Thanksgiving coming up really soon, most of us are all ready to experiment with turkey. After all, it isn’t called turkey day, just like that! But, if you are planning on buying deli turkey, then it can be a task to store it for a long time and still keep it fresh. So, how long is deli turkey good for anyway? Let us find out! 

Deli Turkey

Deli Turkey, while still packaged, lasts for two to three weeks on average if stored correctly in the refrigerator. Once you open the packet, the meat should last for 3-5 days, again, as long as it is stored in the refrigerator. If stored in the freezer, the deli turkey will easily last for two months.

If you have made deli turkey at home, you can store it for 3-5 days in the refrigerator and for two months in the freezer. There are many ways to have deli turkey. Plus the best part is that deli turkey can be bought and also very well be made at home. So, either way, there are ways to preserve your deli turkey meat. 

Moreover, deli turkey also has a lot of health benefits worth considering and is surely something that should be incorporated into our diets more often. So, that makes it even more vital to know about its freshness and shelf life.

In this article, you will learn all about how different long types of deli turkey stay good. Moreover, you will learn different methods of storage and how to tell if your meat has started to go bad. For all of this information, make sure that you read this article till the end!

How Long Does Deli Turkey Last In The Fridge Or Freezer? 

Deli TurkeyFridgeFreezer
Fresh Sliced4 Days1-2 Months
Packaged Sliced7-10 Days3-4 Months
Fresh Whole6 Days2-3 Months
Opened Package4 Days1-2 Months

1. Fresh Sliced

Deli Turkey 1

Quite often, it happens that we want the freshest deli meat to enjoy! Of course, if you do buy fresh deli meat from an actual delicatessen, there is always the advantage of enjoying meat that is completely preservative free. 

Moreover, freshly sliced deli turkey is not just limited to buying from a deli. People who love experimenting in the kitchen also like making deli turkeys of their own. That, too, is surely better than packaged meat, as you would know what goes into it and what does not. 

But, with freshly sliced deli turkey, there is also a little disadvantage, whether it is homemade or bought from a delicatessen. You guessed it; the disadvantage is the fact that it does not last as long as packaged meat simply because it has no added preservatives. 

Now coming to the topic of preserving this turkey and making sure it stays fresh for as long as possible, never leave it out at room temperature for too long. Of course, unless you live in Siberia! 

But, jokes aside, freshly sliced deli turkey from anywhere will last you for a maximum of 4 days in the refrigerator. This is provided it is stored properly in an airtight container.

This meat can be preserved for longer in the freezer, as the shelf life will go up to 1-2 months. Even here, it is important to store it correctly in freezer bags or airtight containers to prevent the meat from getting freezer burn. 

2. Packaged Sliced

When it comes to packaged deli meat, there are both advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered. Firstly, yes, this is the meat that you get pre-sliced and packed at various supermarkets all over the world. 

This type of deli turkey is mostly mass-produced by large companies, and they make sure that the shelf life of this turkey can be as long as possible. Of course, this is also because of the fact that the meat needs a lot of handling, and hence, it needs to have preservatives. 

Without added preservatives, packaged sliced turkey meat would probably go bad even before it reaches the supermarket! So, I know that there are a lot of people who prefer this sort of turkey too. 

Because, let’s face it, sometimes it is more about convenience than things like added preservatives! Coming back to how long this type of meat lasts, as long as it remains unopened, it is a whopping 7-10 days in the refrigerator. 

This is an estimate, however, as most packaged deli turkey usually has a “Use By” date printed on it. So, the good news is that this deli turkey even lasts for five days after the use-by date! Yes, this is indeed all thanks to the preservatives! 

Moreover, you can also store this packaged deli turkey in the freezer for 3-4 months without having to worry about it. As this meat is already pre-packed and sealed, you can store it in either the freezer or refrigerator just as it is, without having to transfer it to a separate container. 

3. Fresh Whole

When it comes to buying deli turkey, a lot of us also prefer buying a whole chunk of it rather than getting it sliced. This is even the case with homemade deli turkey, as they may not want to use it right away after buying or making it at home and slice it as per convenience. 

But does keeping fresh deli meat whole actually increase its shelf life? Yes, it surely does! The thing with deli meat is that it will be cooked, no matter what form you buy it in. But, keeping it whole means that there is less open surface area for bacteria to grow and multiply, which eventually increases its shelf life of it. 

Whether it is homemade or bought from a meat store, fresh whole deli turkey should last in the refrigerator easily for six days and in the freezer for 2-3 months. Now here, of course, how the meat is stored is quite vital when it comes to the shelf life. 

Fresh whole deli turkey should be stored in an airtight container, whether it is in the fridge or freezer. Either that, or it should be wrapped tightly in plastic to avoid freezer burn or anything else that would reduce its shelf life. 

4. Opened Package

Opened Package

Lastly, if you buy deli turkey meat from a supermarket, of course, it will stay as it is for a long time, as I mentioned before. But, this is provided by the fact that the package remains unopened. If the package is opened, the entire ball game is different. 

This is mainly because when deli turkey is packaged by large companies that mass produce it, they tend to vacuum pack it. This way, the contact with air is almost none at all, and hence, the shelf life remains long. 

However, once the package is opened, the vacuum packing is gone, which means that the turkey comes in contact with air. This eventually means that it can be a good place for harmful bacteria to grow and multiply! 

But it isn’t all bad! Even this sort of turkey meat, once opened, will last for a decent amount of time, both in the refrigerator and the freezer, as long as it is stored properly. If stored at optimum temperature in an airtight container, it should last in the refrigerator for a maximum of four days. 

Likewise, once you open the packet, transfer the meat into an airtight container and then store it in the freezer. This way, the meat will easily last for a maximum of 2 months without going bad at all. 

How To Store Leftover Deli Turkey? 

How To Store Leftover Deli Turkey?

The above section covered all about how long deli turkey can last, well, if it is unused. But, it is very unlikely that once you open a packet of deli turkey or slice fresh turkey to make something, you will end up using all of it at once.

So, there are always chances of there being a lot of leftovers of freshly sliced deli turkey or packaged deli turkey. Here, it is even more important to store the leftover deli turkey in a certain way, as once some of it has been sliced or used, there are more chances of the meat going bad even quicker.

Moreover, as the deli turkey is already cooked, it is very important to keep it out of the food danger zone, which is 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the food reaches the danger zone temperature range, it becomes the most optimum breeding ground for harmful bacteria to multiply rapidly.

Hence, storing leftovers in a proper way is needed to keep your deli turkey fresh for longer. Let us take a look at some ways to store leftover turkey deli turkey. 

1. In The Refrigerator

One of the ideal ways to store leftovers, if you are planning to consume them soon, is indeed in the refrigerator. The temperature range of most refrigerators is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so it will protect the meat from getting into the temperature danger zone altogether. 

Moreover, just storing in the refrigerator is not all when it comes to maintaining the quality of the deli turkey. It is also important to store it correctly. By that, I mean it has to be stored either in an airtight container or in Ziploc bags. This will keep the air at bay and hence, will stop harmful bacteria from growing. 

2. In The Freezer

The second way of storing leftover deli turkey is in the freezer. Now even here, it does not matter if the turkey is freshly sliced or prepackaged. As long as it has been subjected to room temperature, the deli turkey will have chance of going bad faster. 

Hence, if you want to store the turkey for an even longer period of time, storing it in the freezer is optimum. Freezers have an even lower temperature than a refrigerator, which means that the meat will surely last for a longer time. But, it has to be stored in an airtight container or freezer-safe Ziploc bags to make sure that the meat does not get freezer burn. 

How To Reheat Leftover Deli Turkey? 

How To Reheat Leftover Deli Turkey?

Yes, deli turkey is pre-cooked, just like most deli meats are. But, once the package has been opened and the leftover turkey is stored, it is quite important that you reheat it just a little bit before eating it.

Many people thaw it and eat it directly. However, it is best not to take any sort of chances when it comes to meat, as bad meat can indeed be fatal in some cases. 

So, reheating just a little bit before eating it is very highly recommended. Here, we will see a few ways in which you can reheat your deli turkey properly.

But are you worried about your deli turkey drying out while reheating? Given below are some simple tips that you can follow to make sure your deli turkey stays moist, even after reheating. 

  • Cover The Turkey – One way to keep your deli turkey from drying out is to cover it while it is being reheated. The moisture and steam released from the deli turkey will stay within the enclosed area and hence, add some moisture to it. Some way to do so is to cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil. 
  • Add Moisture – Another way to make sure your turkey remains moist is to add just a little bit of moisture to it. This can either be some sort of fat or even a liquid-like stock. Just add a small amount to the pan, and as the turkey is heating up, it will soak up the liquid and eventually stay moist. 

1. Reheating Leftover Deli Turkey In The Oven

The first and probably the best way to reheat leftover deli turkey is in the oven. The process is a little slower than certain other ones that I mentioned later. But, in my opinion, this method does give the best results and does not dry out the turkey. Here is how you can reheat leftover deli turkey in the oven :

  • The oven should be preheated at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and the deli turkey should be completely thawed if taken out of the freezer. 
  • Now, wrap the turkey in aluminum foil and add a few tablespoons of butter, gravy, or even stock to it. 
  • Wrap up the foil tightly and press out all the air. Then, place the package on a wire rack and heat it in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the quantity. 

2. Reheating Leftover Deli Turkey In The Microwave

If you want the heating process to be quicker than that in the oven, then heating leftover deli turkey in the microwave is a great way to do so. It won’t take as long as other methods do.

However, even here, there are certain things that need to be kept in mind, to ensure that the quality of the deli turkey remains top-notch. Here is how you can reheat deli turkey in the microwave: 

  • Place the turkey slices on a microwave-safe plate and add some liquid on top, which can be a few tablespoons of butter, stock, or gravy. 
  • Cover the deli turkey slices with a damp paper towel and heat them in the microwave at a low heat setting. 
  • Heat the turkey for 30-second intervals. If you heat it for too long, there are more chances of it drying out, regardless of the added moisture. This should take 4-5 minutes, depending on the amount of deli turkey. 

3. Reheating Leftover Deli Turkey On A Stove Top

Lastly, if you don’t happen to have a microwave or an oven at home, you can still very well reheat leftover deli turkey. Even this process is much faster as compared to reheating the deli turkey in an oven.

But, there are certain things worth keeping in mind here too. The process to reheat leftover deli turkey on a stovetop is as follows: 

  • Place a few slices of deli turkey in a skillet and add some stock or butter for moisture. 
  • Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil and let the turkey heat at medium-low heat until the stock begins to simmer. 
  • Make sure that the heat is not too high, and if the stock starts reducing or evaporating, you can add in some more. 
  • Once the stock begins to simmer, your turkey must be done. This should take 3-5 minutes. Serve immediately. 

How To Tell If Your Stored Deli Turkey Has Gone Bad? (Signs Of Spoilage)

How To Tell If Deli Turkey Has Gone Bad?

As I mentioned earlier, and I can’t emphasize enough, eating spoiled meat can be fatal. I know all of you must know this already. But with any type of meat, it is even more important to check signs of spoilage as compared to other ingredients that we use in the kitchen.

The main reason here is the fact that meat is the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. So, it is important to stay vigilant about these signs as early as possible, to avoid any sort of health trouble later on. Everyone would surely be able to recognize if the meat has begun to rot.

But, it is the early signs of rotting or spoilage that are very easy to get overlooked. So, how can these be detected? Let us take a look at some ways you can check if your stored deli turkey has gone bad. 

1. Color 

The first step to check whether your stored deli turkey has gone bad or is beginning to go bad is by checking the color of the meat. This is the first and one of the most important ways to check how the deli turkey is, as far as quality is concerned. 

If you see the meat has changed its color to a pale gray, dark brown, or even a yellow hue, then the deli turkey is spoiled and should be thrown out. Similarly, if you see mold growing on the deli turkey, it has started to rot. 

2. Texture

Sometimes it does happen that the color of the deli turkey can be misleading, even after it has gone bad. If you think that your deli turkey is not fine, but aren’t too sure about it just by checking the color, then it is time to check the texture.

The texture of deli turkey should be smooth and just a little wet because of moisture. If the texture seems really slimy, sticky, or even hard, then the deli turkey is spoiled and should be thrown away. 

3. Smell

Another way to check if your deli turkey is spoiled or not is by the sense of smell. Deli turkey, once stored properly, tends to have a pretty neutral smell. If there are added herbs and spices to it, then you may get a smell of that too. 

But, in case the deli turkey smells funny, by which I mean rotten or even sour, then it is most probably spoiled already. Most deli meats have a very pungent sour aroma to them when they go bad, especially deli turkey. 

4. Taste

This is surely the last resort when it comes to checking the quality of deli turkey. If all the above-mentioned methods don’t work, or if you are not very satisfied with them, then the absolute last thing you can do to check the quality of your deli turkey is to taste it. 

While tasting it, make sure you don’t take a massive bite! Just taste a little bit, and if it tastes sour or rancid, the deli turkey has gone bad. I would even recommend spitting out the portion that you have tasted, just to not take any chances. 

Why Does Deli Turkey Go Bad? 

Why Does Deli Turkey Go Bad?

Now that you know how you can detect whether deli turkey is spoiled or not, it is also important to know why exactly it does get spoiled. Of course, it is quite imperative to know this, so that these little mistakes can be avoided and you can eventually keep your deli turkey fresh for a long time. 

There can actually be a number of reasons why deli turkey can go bad. Sometimes, you may have even purchased a product that wasn’t made well in the first place by the manufacturers, hence leading to spoilage.

However, there are also certain reasons why the deli turkey can go bad, even if you bought it in the best condition. Some of these reasons are given below. 

1. Improper Storage Temperature

It is important to store any sort of meat at an appropriate temperature. As I mentioned earlier, a little bit of here and there when it comes to temperature and your deli turkey will end up being a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. 

So, maintaining an optimum temperature is very vital. If storing in the refrigerator, you have to make sure that the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal would be 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to the temperature of a freezer, it should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Exposure To Air

Packaged turkey meat, if unopened, does last longer, simply because it is vacuum sealed. This means there is no amount of air in the bag, and hence, the meat stays fresh. So, making sure that your deli turkey is not exposed to too much air is very important. 

While storing deli turkey, it is really recommended that you store it in airtight containers. This way, there won’t be any sort of air exposure. Another way to store it is to pack the deli turkey meat in Ziploc bags and push out all the air. This will also keep your turkey fresh for a longer time. 

3. Use By Date

Lastly, when buying packaged deli turkey, the use by date is much more important than everyone may think! The use by date denotes the fact that after a certain date, the meat should surely not be consumed under any circumstances. 

It is different from ‘the best before, as this date usually goes on dry products, which can still be used beyond the date. However, if your deli turkey is stored for too long beyond the use-by date, it can go bad. 

Some Tips To Keep Your Deli Turkey Fresh For Long

Some Tips To Keep Deli Turkey Fresh For Long?

Quite often, it happens that we end up buying or making more deli turkey than necessary. Then there are so many leftovers, which, if not stored properly or used at the right time, can go bad. No one would want their meat to go to waste! 

But there are certain tips that I have shared here that you can follow to make sure your deli turkey stays fresh for as long as you would want it. Mind you, this is not about how to prevent spoilage but rather about how to retain freshness for longer. 

1. Freeze It

If you have way too many leftovers that make you clueless about what to do with them, then, freezing is the best bet. Freezing deli turkey meat properly will surely retain its freshness and flavor for a much longer time than you would think. 

2. Store Them In Foil

If you don’t have any airtight containers or Ziploc bags at home, do not worry. You can still store deli turkey in a way that retains its freshness. Yes, the answer here is aluminum foil. If the turkey is wrapped properly in aluminum foil, with all the air pushed out, then it will surely stay fresh for a longer period of time. 

Best Shelf Life Tips For Deli Turkey

Now that you have read the whole article, I am sure that you feel quite confident about how you can store your deli turkey and also keep it fresh for as long as possible! Here, let us do a quick and short recap of some of the best tips that you can keep in mind when it comes to the shelf life of deli turkey. 

  • Always check the use-by date of the deli turkey before you buy it, so you can be sure about how long it will last and make sure that it stays fresh until you need it. 
  • Make sure you preserve the deli turkey in the best way possible. Some of the ways to do so are by storing it in an airtight container, Ziploc bag, aluminum foil, or the original packaging that it came in. 
  • Check the temperature of the refrigerator and the freezer. Just a few degrees here and there can create a huge impact on the overall shelf life of deli turkey. So, make sure that your refrigerator and freezer are always at the appropriate temperature. 
  • Once you thaw the deli turkey, use it immediately. This is especially important if you have thawed the turkey in a microwave oven or in cold water, as freezing and reheating it will spoil the deli turkey much faster. 


So, as we have come to the end of this article, I hope you found it extremely informative and helpful. Make sure you follow as many of the tips given as possible, to keep your deli turkey fresh for longer.

Other than that, always check for early signs of spoilage in your deli turkey to avoid any sort of trouble later on. If you want to know about how to preserve ground turkey meat and more, do check out other articles on our website! Happy Thanksgiving and cooking to you! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is deli turkey good after 7 days?

Depending on where you bought the deli turkey from and its packaging, most fresh deli turkey should be consumed within 5 days after buying it. 

Can you get sick from eating old deli turkey? 

Yes, old or bad meat can be very harmful. It can cause gut issues to a very great extent and, in some cases, even be fatal. So, it is best not to eat old deli turkey. 

How can the extra deli turkey from a package be stored?

The best way to store extra deli turkey from a package is to transfer it into an airtight container, Ziploc, or aluminum foil and then store it in the refrigerator or freezer. 

How long can deli turkey stay fresh, at room temperature? 

The maximum amount of time that deli turkey can be left out at room temperature is 2 hours. 

What can be done if you taste spoiled deli turkey? 

You should always keep tasting as the last resort when checking if the deli turkey is fresh or not. However, if you have no other option but to taste it, and if it tastes rancid, immediately spit out the piece that you tasted and wash your mouth. 

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