How To Tell If Ground Turkey Is Bad


How To Tell When Ground Turkey Is Bad?

There are several ways to determine if ground turkey is bad. These ways include three of the senses, smell, touch, and visual appearance. You can also check out the expiration date as a reference as well. For details, see the section below that will walk you through a step-by-step process of how you can tell if your ground turkey is bad.


What Is Ground Turkey And Why Does It Go Bad?

Turkey is a mixture of white and dark meat that is leftover. Typically, the meat comes from turkey thighs or drumsticks. The meat is usually processed together with the skin resulting in ground turkey. 

Most often ground turkey can go bad because it is not stored at the correct temperature, and, or has been exposed to an excessive amount of air. Both of which can cause the ground turkey to go bad quickly. 


Ground turkey needs to be stored at 40°F or below for safe storage. When it is kept at temperatures 40°F and above, bacteria grows quickly in the ground turkey and causes it to go bad. 

Air Exposure

When ground turkey is exposed to air unnecessarily it causes bacteria to grow on the ground turkey much faster than if it is sealed securely in an airtight container. 

The Most Effective Ways To Determine If Ground Turkey Is Bad

There are four main ways that are very effective in determining if the ground turkey has gone bad. There are four ways include smell, color, texture, and expiration date. The four ways you can tell if the ground turkey is bad detailed below. 

1. Smell Ground Turkey

If you are unsure if your ground turkey is good or has gone bad, take a good sniff of your ground turkey. 

No matter if it is raw or cooked if your ground turkey has an odor about it that smells rotten or off, then there is a good chance that your ground turkey has gone bad, it is time to be tossed. 

Ideally, ground turkey that is still good should have no definitive smell or odor about it at all. If it is stinky at all don’t take the risk of cooking it. 

2. The Look Of Ground Turkey

The second way you can tell if the ground turkey is bad is to examine the appearance of your ground turkey. Get a glimpse of the minced meat, and examine its color specifically. 

You want your ground turkey to be a light pink color. If you see any kind of brown, green, yellow, or gray, these are signs that your ground turkey is bad. 

3. Feel the minced meat

Another way you can tell if the ground turkey is bad is by the texture or feel of the meat. If it has a slimy texture to it or is sticky this mean that the ground turkey has turned bad. Do not risk any kind of ground turkey that has signs it has gone bad. 

4. Check The Expiration Date

The final check you can do to tell if the ground turkey is bad is to check the expiration date on your package. If the ground turkey expiration date is past, this is another sign that your turkey is likely no longer good to eat. 

raw turkey meatballs

How to Know If Ground Turkey Is Bad After Cooking


If you’re cooked ground turkey is bad, it will have a very unpleasant smell to it. Bad odors on your cooked ground turkey are likely signs that it has gone bad on you. 

Color Change

Another sign that cooked ground turkey is likely bad is if the color has changed on you. Cooked ground turkey should be a light brown. If you see other colors in your meat, toss it. 

Texture Change

Like raw meat, cooked ground turkey may have a texture change if it has gone bad. You might see if the slimy texture or a sticky texture on the meat, both of these mean that it is bad to eat. 

Mold Layers 

Another sign you might see on cooked ground turkey is mold. If you see any sign of mold growing on your ground turkey, toss it right away. 

How To Tell If Ground Turkey Kept In The Refrigerator Is Bad

No matter if your ground turkey is kept in the refrigerator, if it’s cooked or raw you are likely to detect a foul odor, slimy texture, or discoloration. The presence of one or more of these on your ground turkey means that it is time to toss it. 

How To Tell If Ground Turkey Kept In The Freezer Is Bad

You can tell if frozen ground turkey is bad first by looking for freezer burn. 

Second, check to see how long your ground turkey has been frozen. If the ground turkey has been frozen for more than three or four months, it is likely bad. 

Finally, you can defrost the frozen ground turkey, and see if any discoloration develops. When you see hits of gray, brown, green, or yellow, this means that it should not be eaten. You can also smell the defrosted ground turkey to detect if there are any bad odors. If it smells bad, toss it. 


Why Does Ground Turkey Go Bad? 

1. Expiry Date

Ground turkey, when fresh usually has a shelf life of 2 to 4 days. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check your expiration date before purchasing. Make sure that your meat is going to be good for a while still. 

2. Temperature Keeping

Ground turkey that is stored in your refrigerator should be kept at 40°F or below. This is the ideal temperature so that bacteria does not grow quickly on your meat. If you’re freezing your ground turkey it should be frozen at 0°F or below. 

3. Air Exposure

Ground turkey that is exposed to too much air runs the risk of bacteria growing at an exponential rate. Bacteria grows faster on meat that is exposed to air. 

To prevent the ground turkey from going bad, it’s a good idea to store it in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. This helps your meat to be exposed to a limited amount of air and will prevent a lot of bacteria from growing on it. 

How To Prevent Ground Turkey From Becoming Bad?

In order to prevent ground turkey from going bad, it is important to store your ground turkey properly. The amount of storage time may vary depending on if your ground turkey is raw or cooked. 

How To Store Ground Turkey Properly

Raw Ground Turkey

Freezer It Right After Buying It. When you purchase ground turkey from the store it’s a good idea to freeze it right away if you don’t intend to use it that same day. By freezing your ground turkey you prevent bacteria from growing and are able to keep it longer.

Freeze 3-4 months. Raw ground turkey can be frozen for 3 to 4 months when stored in an airtight container, or vacuum-sealed, at 0°F or below. 

Refrigerate raw ground turkey in an airtight container. If you plan to use raw ground turkey quickly after purchase from the store, it may be kept in the refrigerator. When you store in the fridge, be sure it is sealed tightly in an airtight container. You can also seal it and remove any excess air in a storage bag, freezer bag, or vacuum seal it. The main idea is to prevent extra air from getting into it. 

Store 1-2 Days. Raw ground turkey may be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days before going bad. Your refrigerator temperature should be at 40°F or below for best storage temperatures. 

raw turkey meatballs verticle

Cooked Ground Turkey 

Cool Then Refrigerate. Cooked ground turkey may be refrigerated after it has been cooked. Be sure that it is fully cooled before placing it into the refrigerator. 

Store 3-4 Days. Cooked ground turkey will typically last between three and four days in the refrigerator when stored at 40°F or below and sealed in an airtight container.

Sealed Tightly. Before you refrigerate the meat, be sure to seal it tightly in an airtight container, plastic storage bag, or vacuum-sealed bag. Be sure that you remove any extra air from the storage container so that you prevent unwanted bacteria from growing.

Raw Ground Turkey Shelf Life

How Long Does Raw Turkey Last In The Freezer

Raw ground turkey, if stored properly, usually lasts between three and four months when frozen at 0°F or below.

How Long Does Raw Turkey Last In The Fridge

Raw ground turkey stored in the fridge will typically last between 1 to 2 days when stored properly at 40°F or below. 

How Long Does Raw Ground Turkey Last at Room Temperature

Raw ground turkey should be kept at room temperature no more than 2 hours maximum. Meat that is kept above 40°F runs the risk of growing unwanted bacteria, and can ultimately cause food poisoning very quickly. 

Your best result your best bet is to place it in the refrigerator as soon as possible. If you are grocery shopping and have a few more errands to run afterward, be sure to take a cooler and ice pack with you to store the meat in your car. 

What Do You Need To Do To Defrost Ground Turkey?

Fridge Defrost. Defrost your ground turkey by placing it into the refrigerator and allowing it to defrost overnight. Please know that this is the safest method, but will also take the longest amount of time for the ground turkey to thaw. 

Cold Water. Another method you can use to defrost the ground turkey is to place it in a bowl of cold water. You want to replace the cold water about every 30 minutes so that it does not become too warm. This method is faster than thawing your meat in the refrigerator, but your meat must be cooked as soon as it is thawed using this cold water method.

Microwave. The fastest way you can defrost ground turkey is by using the defrost function on your microwave. Once your meat is defrosted in the microwave, you will want to cook it immediately and not place it back into the fridge raw.

Cooking Turkey Meat Tips

Using ground turkey in recipes is a fabulous way to prepare meals that are low cost. Ground turkey is also a great substitute for ground beef if you have difficulty finding it, or want to replace it for another reason. However, there are a few tips and tricks you want to keep in mind when cooking ground turkey. 

Handling The Meat. When you are cooking ground turkey it’s important that you don’t overhandle the meat. Ground turkey can become hard and dried out if it is handled too much. 

Cooking Temperature. Unlike ground beef, ground turkey must be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Because ground turkey is poultry, you can get very sick and may not cook it to medium, or rare, but must be well done at 165°F. 

Cooking Time. The cooking time depends on the temperature of your ground turkey. When your meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and is a light brown, it should be considered done and removed from the heat. When ground turkey is overcooked it can become dry and not very tasty. 

raw-ground-chicken-turkey-meat-on white

What Happens If I Consume Bad Ground Turkey?

If you consume ground turkey that has gone bad, you run the risk of developing food poisoning. Ground turkey that is bad has grown unwanted bacteria, which may range in severity. If you develop a fever, can’t stop vomiting, or are concerned, be sure to contact your doctor or visit the emergency room. 

If you Doubt It, Toss It

The bottom line when determining if your ground turkey is bad is if you are in doubt, throw it out. Don’t run the risk of eating something that has gone bad and may make you sick. Simply throw it out. 


What Is The Shelf Life Of Cooked Ground Turkey?

The shelf life of cooked ground turkey depends on how it is stored. Cooked ground turkey should remain at room temperature for no more than two hours before it goes bad. Cooked ground turkey can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container between three and four days, and may be frozen at 0°F or below for up to three months. 

How Long Can You Leave The Frozen Ground Turkey Out To Thaw?

To thaw ground turkey, you can place it in the refrigerator overnight, in a bowl of cold water, changing the cold water every 30 minutes so that it stays cold, or you can defrost ground turkey in the microwave using the defrost function. 

What Is The Best Way To Thaw A Ground Turkey?

The best and safest way to thaw ground turkey is to allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. 

How To Tell If Ground Turkey Is Bad

There are four main ways you can tell if ground turkey has gone bad.

These four ways include smelling the ground turkey to detect any bad odors, examining the appearance of your ground turkey for discoloration, feeling the texture of the ground turkey to see if it is sticky or slimy, and finally checking the expiration date to see if your ground turkey is past the recommended date.

If one or more of these situations apply to your ground turkey, don’t risk it and throw it out. We hope this helps!

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Faith Has been cooking and baking for many years! she loves to share her recipes with the world, and hopes you will enjoy them too!

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