Shelf Talk

How Long Do Christmas Leftovers Last?

Leftover turkey and stuffing. Baked ham and mashed potatoes. Eggnog and cookies. The only thing better than the Christmas meal itself is feasting on the leftovers the next day!

So how long can you safely keep Christmas leftovers and what's the best way to store your leftover turkey, ham or duck and all the fixings? To make the most of your leftovers, you’ve first got to ensure that they’re being kept in a safe storage environment. Most Christmas leftovers will stay fresh and tasty for at least a few days in the refrigerator and a month or more in the freezer.

Some general tips:

•   Refrigerate leftover turkey, ham, goose and other meats, stuffing, gravy and other cooked dishes within 2 hours of serving.

•   Carve leftover turkey meat off the bones before refrigerating. Place the meat and stuffing in separate containers.

•    Divide leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.

Follow the guidelines below to enjoy the maximum taste from your Christmas leftovers:










Turkey, Goose or Duck — whole, cooked


    3-4 days

      2-3 months

Cut whole bird into smaller pieces before refrigerating.

Ham — baked at home, leftovers


3-4 days

3-4 months

Freeze in airtight containers or freezer bags, or wrap tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer wrap.

Gravy — homemade


1-2 days

2-3 months

Bring leftover gravy to a full boil before using.

Cranberry sauce


10-14 days

1-2 months

Store leftovers in covered plastic or glass container.

Stuffing — cooked


3-4 days

1 month

Remove stuffing from turkey before refrigerating.

Mashed potatoes or yams; green bean casserole


3-5 days

10-12 months

Mashed potatoes freeze well; whole baked potatoes don’t.

Cookies — homemade or bakery-purchased

   2-3 weeks

5-7 days if frosting or filling contains eggs or dairy products

8-12 months

Refrigerate immediately any cookies that contain frosting or filling made with dairy products or eggs.

Fruitcake — baked

    1 month

6 months

1 year

Cover with foil or plastic wrap or place in plastic bag to prevent drying out.

Eggnog — homemade


1 day

6 months

Keep refrigerated in tightly lidded container. Never allow eggnog to remain unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.

Apple pie — baked

    2 days

2-3 days after pantry storage

1-2 months

To freeze, wrap pie tightly with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place in heavy-duty freezer bag.

Wine, red or white — opened bottle


3-5 days

1-2 months

Freeze leftover wine for use in cooked dishes such as sauces and stews.

Bread — soft-crusted

4 -5 days


2-3 months

Refrigerator storage is not recommended, as bread will quickly dry out and become stale — for longer-term storage, freeze bread instead.


1 -2 days


2-3 months


*Freezer time shown is for best quality only — foods kept constantly frozen at 0° F will keep safe indefinitely.

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