A good Thanksgiving host makes sure to have more than enough food on the table for their guests, which means there’s bound to be plenty of leftovers. With so much effort put into those beloved recipes, you’ll want to make sure nothing goes to waste, but you’ll also want to keep food safety in mind. Not only does that include not leaving any perishable food out for more than two hours, but it also means knowing how long you can store food in the fridge or freezer before it goes bad.
Using information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as food safety guides Shelf Life Advice and StillTasty, we’ve put together this simple guide on how long your leftovers should last. As a rule of thumb, refrigerators should be set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, and freezers at 0 degrees F, and all food should be wrapped or sealed as tightly as possible (in an effort to remove as much air as possible) before being stored. Also be sure to trust your instincts and use your own eyes and nose; if something looks or smells off, throw it out.
You put a lot of effort into making the perfect turkey, so you’ll definitely want to make the most of what’s left over. Leftover poultry — whether it’s chicken or turkey — lasts only three or four days in the fridge and four months in the freezer on its own, or six months when it’s stored in broth or gravy.
If you’ve also made ham for Thanksgiving, that will last three to four days in the fridge and one to two months in the freezer.
If you’ve made mashed potatoes the right way, you’ll have cooked them in cream and butter, which means they’ll be good for only three to four days in the fridge. Frozen, they can last up to two months. If you make your mashed potatoes without any dairy, you can leave them in the freezer for 10 to 12 months.
Gravy, and any type of broth that’s made with meat, will last three to four days in the fridge, or one to two months if frozen.
Cranberry sauce isn’t great for freezing, as it can get too watery when thawed. You can, however, make it last up to a week in the fridge — two, if it contains alcohol.
If your stuffing was a total hit, you’ll want to make sure your guests know it will last only three to four days in the fridge if they take it home. In the freezer, it’s good for up to a month.
Arguably best made with canned green beans, a green bean casserole will last three to five days in the fridge. Leave it in the freezer and it can last up to four to six months.
If you have leftover fresh corn kernels — not in a can or on the cob — it should last three to four days in the fridge and one to two months in the freezer.
That gooey, creamy mac and cheese is always great for a quick heat-and-serve meal, and if you store it properly in the fridge, you can enjoy it for up to three to five days. Freeze it and it’ll be good for one to two months.
Any type of pie will last just three or four days in the fridge, but pies such as pumpkin or pecan can also be frozen for up to one or two months after they’ve been baked. Pies that are a bit more “airy,” such as custard or chiffon pies, should not be frozen. An apple pie can also last up to two or three days in the pantry.
Dinner rolls will last one or two days if they have a hard crust, or four to five days if they’re soft. Either way, you can also freeze them for two to three months.
An opened bottle of full-bodied white wine will be good for three to five days when stored in the fridge with a cork. Light whites and rosé could last a little longer, from five to seven days. Red wine should last three to five days in a cool dark place with a cork. Put the opened wine in the freezer and it’ll last one or two months.
Freshly baked cornbread can last a day or two if properly stored at room temperature, but if you put it in the fridge, it’ll be good for up to a week. You can also freeze cornbread for up to two or three months.
A sweet potato casserole should last three to five days in the fridge. If you’d like it to last longer, try sprinkling the sweet potatoes with a little bit of lemon juice to keep them from becoming discolored. If properly stored in airtight containers, a sweet potato casserole will taste great even after 10 to 12 months in the freezer and can be used for some pretty creative leftover recipes.
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