Can you let a turkey rest in a cooler? - Resto NYC (2023)

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you are anything like me, you are already planning your menu and getting your kitchen ready for the big day. One question that many people have is whether they can let their turkey rest in a cooler after cooking it. In short, the answer is yes. In this blog post, we’ll explore the details of why letting your turkey rest in a cooler is a good idea and how to do it properly.

Table of Contents

Why Let Your Turkey Rest?

Before we dive into the details of letting your turkey rest in a cooler, let’s first discuss why you should let your turkey rest in the first place. When you cook a turkey, the juices inside of it shift and move around. If you cut into the turkey right after cooking it, these juices will spill out, leaving you with a dry and flavorless turkey.

When you let your turkey rest, these juices have time to redistribute themselves throughout the meat, resulting in a much more flavorful and juicy turkey. In general, you should let your turkey rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving it.

Why Use a Cooler?

Now that we’ve established why you should let your turkey rest, let’s talk about why you should use a cooler to do it. The main reason to use a cooler is that it will keep your turkey warm while it rests. You don’t want your turkey to get cold during this time, as that would defeat the purpose.

Additionally, using a cooler frees up your oven and stovetop space. If you’re cooking several dishes for your Thanksgiving meal, you’ll appreciate having that extra space available.

How to Let Your Turkey Rest in a Cooler

Now that we’ve established why using a cooler is a good idea, let’s walk through how to do it properly. Here are the steps you should follow:

1. Once your turkey is finished cooking, remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly.
2. Use tongs to carefully transfer the turkey to a large cutting board.
3. Loosely tent the turkey with foil to keep it warm.
4. Line a cooler with foil. Make sure the cooler is large enough to hold the turkey with some extra space surrounding it.
5. Using oven mitts, carefully transfer the turkey to the foil-lined cooler.
6. Fill any empty space in the cooler with additional foil or clean towels to help insulate the turkey.
7. Close the lid of the cooler and let the turkey rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes.

It’s important to note that you should not let your turkey rest in the cooler for longer than 2 hours. After that point, the risk of bacteria growth increases.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, letting your turkey rest in a cooler is a good idea for several reasons. It keeps your turkey warm while it rests, frees up oven and stovetop space, and results in a more flavorful and juicy turkey. To do this properly, follow the steps outlined above and enjoy your delicious Thanksgiving meal!


How long can a cooked turkey sit in a cooler?

If you’re planning to store your turkey in a cooler for any length of time, it’s important to keep temperature control in mind. Food safety guidelines are important to follow to avoid potential illnesses that can be caused by consuming food that has not been stored properly.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends using cooked turkey within 3 to 4 days, if stored in the refrigerator (at 40°F or less). While refrigeration slows bacterial growth, it does not completely stop it. It’s also important to note that cold air can only penetrate a certain distance into the turkey, so if the bird is very large, it may require more time to cool completely before it can be safely stored in a cooler.

If you need to store your turkey for more than a few hours before serving, it’s important to use a cooler with ice or ice packs to keep the temperature below 40°F. The turkey should be stored in a shallow, airtight container or plastic bag, and should be surrounded by ice packs or ice to keep it cold.

When using a cooler, it’s important to monitor the temperature regularly and add ice as needed to keep the temperature below 40°F. If the temperature is allowed to rise above this point, bacteria can begin to grow on the turkey, raising the risk of foodborne illness.

It’s important to note that while storing a cooked turkey in a cooler for a short period of time is generally safe, it should not be stored there indefinitely. According to the USDA, cooked turkey can be frozen for 3 to 4 months. While turkey can technically be frozen indefinitely, it may lose moisture and flavor over time, so it’s best to consume it within a few months of freezing.

If you need to store a cooked turkey in a cooler, it’s important to keep the temperature below 40°F and to use it within 3 to 4 days. By following these guidelines, you can safely store your turkey and enjoy it without worrying about potential foodborne illnesses.

Can you put a cooked turkey in a cooler to keep it warm?

Keeping a cooked turkey warm and at the right temperature is essential to ensure that the meat remains safe to consume and to avoid any bacterial growth. One of the most common questions people ask is whether it is possible to put a cooked turkey in a cooler to keep it warm.

The answer is yes; it is possible to keep a cooked turkey warm using a cooler. In fact, using a cooler is one of the most effective ways to keep the turkey warm, and it is also an easy way to transport the bird to a different location.

To keep the turkey warm in a cooler, the first step is to heat up the cooler. You can do this by filling the cooler with hot water and letting it sit for 30 minutes. This process will help to raise the temperature inside the cooler and ensure that the turkey will stay warm.

After 30 minutes, dump the hot water from the cooler and dry it completely. Then, line the cooler with towels or blankets to create an insulating layer. You can also add additional towels to cover the turkey and keep it warm.

Next, carefully place the cooked turkey into the cooler and cover it with more towels or blankets. Be sure to seal the cooler lid tightly to keep the heat inside.

It is important to monitor the temperature of the turkey regularly to make sure it stays at a safe temperature. The ideal temperature for cooked turkey is between 140°F and 165°F, and it is essential to keep the turkey at this temperature to avoid harmful bacteria growth.

To keep the turkey warm in a cooler for an extended period, it is recommended to use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature and check it every hour. Be prepared to add more hot water to the cooler or replace the towels or blankets if they become damp or cold.

Using a cooler to keep a cooked turkey warm is a simple and effective method. By following the steps mentioned above and monitoring the temperature regularly, you can ensure your cooked turkey remains warm and safe to eat for several hours.

What is the best way to rest turkey?

Once your turkey is cooked to perfection, the next important step is to rest it before carving. Resting the turkey allows for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more tender and flavorful. It may be tempting to immediately start carving and serving the turkey once it is out of the oven, but it is crucial to resist this urge to ensure a perfect roast turkey.

The recommended resting time for a turkey is around 30-45 minutes. During this time, the temperature of the turkey will continue to rise, but there is no need to worry. The turkey will not get cold during this time because it will still be quite hot, especially since it has just been taken out of the oven.

To rest the turkey, place it in a warm place, tented with foil. This will keep the turkey warm while also allowing it to rest in a stable environment. It’s important to note that carving the turkey immediately after removing it from the oven can cause the juices to run out, which will make it drier and less flavorful. By letting it rest, the turkey will become juicier, more flavorful, and easier to carve as well.

If you are worried about the turkey getting cold during the resting period, you can cover the foil with a towel or blanket to help insulate the heat. However, generally, the turkey will still be warm enough to serve even after a 30-45 minute resting period.

Resting the turkey is a crucial step in achieving a perfectly cooked and delicious turkey for your holiday meal. Allow ample time for resting to ensure maximum juiciness and tenderness. By following this simple tip, you can guarantee your turkey comes out perfectly every time.

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Author: Tish Haag

Last Updated: 06/05/2023

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