How long do Thanksgiving leftovers last? USDA says 3 to 4 days

Thanksgiving Day only lasts one day, but the holiday’s leftovers can stretch into the following week.

Even so, that leftover turkey won’t be safe to eat forever, even if it’s refrigerated. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it probably won’t be safe to eat once you return to work the following Monday.

The USDA says cooked leftovers should be quickly stored in shallow containers and placed in a refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling. Consumers should only eat refrigerated leftovers for three to four days.

After that, they recommend throwing it out.

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"A general rule of thumb for refrigerator storage for cooked leftovers is 4 days; raw poultry and ground meats, 1 to 2 days," the USDA said.

Food refrigerated for too long risks growing spoilage bacteria. Its unlikely to make you violently ill, but say it might make you gag.

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Volunteer cuts protein at Gobble Gobble Give 2020 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on Nov. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

The other kind of bacteria found in refrigerated foods is pathogenic bacteria, which can grow rapidly between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This kind of bacteria also causes food poisoning.

Food left out at room temperature for more than two hours should also be thrown out. And if food is left out at a temperature higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it should be discarded after one hour.

RELATED: Don't wash your turkey this Thanksgiving, CDC says

Placing cooked food in the freezer drastically extends its safe-consumption period. According to the Daily Meal, here’s how long common Thanksgiving leftovers should be stored:


  • Fridge: Three to four days
  • Freezer: Four months in the freezer or six months if stored in gravy or broth


  • Fridge: Three to four days
  • Freezer: One to two months

Mashed potatoes

  • Fridge: Three to four days
  • Freezer: If there’s dairy in the potatoes then they’ll only last one to two months, but if they’re dairy-free then they can last anywhere from 10 months to a year.


  • Fridge: Three to four days
  • Freezer: One to two months

Cranberry sauce

  • Fridge: If it’s alcohol-free, it can last up to a week in the fridge, but if there’s alcohol it can last up to two weeks.
  • Freezer: It’s not recommended to freeze cranberry sauce because it can get too watery.


  • Fridge: Three to four days
  • Freezer: Up to one month

Green bean casserole

  • Fridge: Three to five days
  • Freezer: Four to six months


  • Fridge: Three to four days
  • Freezer: One to two months

Macaroni and cheese

  • Fridge: Three to five days
  • Freezer: One to two months


  • Fridge: Any type of pie lasts about three to four days.
  • Freezer: Solid pies such as pecan or pumpkin last one to two months, but fluffy or custard-based pies should not be frozen.

Apple pies last two to three days in the pantry.

Dinner rolls

  • Fridge: One to two days if they’re hard, four to five days if they’re soft
  • Freezer: Any kind of dinner roll will last two to three months


  • Fridge: Full-bodied white wines last three to five days with a cork. Light wines and rose last five to seven days. Red wine is three to five days in a cool, dark place with a cork.
  • Freezer: Any wine lasts two to three months


  • Fridge: Up to one week
  • Freezer: Two to three months

If the bread is stored properly at room temperature in the pantry, it can last one to two days.

Sweet potato casserole

  • Fridge: Three to five days, but sprinkling it with lemon juice can make it last a little longer
  • Freezer: 10 to 12 months

This story was reported from Atlanta.