How To Tell If Ground Turkey Is Bad: 3 Signs Of Spoiled Turkey (2023)

How to tell if ground turkey is bad? It is a common question of many people who cook ground turkey regularly.

Ground turkey is the main ingredient to make delicious burgers and many other tasty dishes. Besides that, ground turkey is good for your health because of its nutrition.

But, if you like this kind of meat, you should know more about how to store it and check to ensure it is fresh before cooking.

That is why I am here with you. In this post, I am glad to help you extend your knowledge of ground turkey.

Check them now!

How To Tell If Ground Turkey Is Bad: 3 Signs Of Spoiled Turkey (1)

How Do I Know Whether Ground Turkey Is Bad?

If you are unsure whether your ground turkey is still edible or bad, you can follow one of my three ways to realize them. Thanks to these ways, you can quickly determine whether to use it or throw it in the trash can.

  • Smell
  • Texture
  • Color

Do not leave this post so soon because I still have many exciting details about the checking ground turkey process.

Keep reading to explore everything!

What Is The Truth About Ground Turkey?

Firstly, I will bring more insight into ground turkey and its nutritional value. In addition, I also added more health benefits of ground turkey meat. After seeing it, I think you will decide to consume ground turkey frequently.

Ground Turkey Meat – An “Alternative” Of Ground Beef?

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First, you need to know that ground and minced meat has a big gap, so don’t mistake ground turkey for minced turkey. Ground turkey is a combination between dark and light turkey meat. Sometimes, you’ll find the fat and remaining skin parts in the mixture.

Before grinding, people remove their bones and treat them with some additives. Nowadays, many people prefer buying commercial products since it saves time and is more convenient.

The producers tend to use turkey’s drumsticks to make ground meat because it is cheaper than the breast part.

Ground turkey is very beneficial for your health. It is rich in protein that supports and maintains muscle growth. With the high protein content, you can also lose weight when using turkey instead of other kinds of meat.(1)

Furthermore, ground turkey is considered the best alternative for red meat, such as veal or beef. So if preparing savory meals with ground beef is not a viable option for you for some reason, opt for ground turkey instead.

This ground meat is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including B3, B6, B12, and B1 and B2. Last but not least, phosphorus in ground meat is essential for bone health.(2)

How To Realize The Signs Of Spoiled Ground Turkey

When kept in the fridge, ground turkey or other kinds of meat can not avoid bad situations.

Moreover, if you accidentally cook spoiled ground turkey, I do not want to mention the severe results on your health. So, make sure your meat is still alright!

1. Smell

After taking ground turkey from your fridge, first, sniff the meat. Interestingly, fresh ground turkey does not have any smell or sometimes just a slight smell.

So, you should hope your ground turkey did not have any smell. In cases of sour smells or other disturbing smells, don’t hesitate to throw them away.

Spoiled ground turkey is ideal for bacterial growth, including Escherichia coli (E.coli), salmonella, etc.

Once you eat them, it can cause several moderate to severe problems, such as abdominal pain, fever, or intestinal infection.

2. Texture

The abnormal texture is a sign to check whether the ground turkey is spoiled or not.

You can touch the meat and once the texture is sticky or slimy, you should give it a toss. This is also one of the telltale indications of spoiled steak, ham, beef, and other protein-based ingredients.

Although it is not over expired, a slimy texture with a bad smell is not the fresh sign of ground turkey.

Moreover, if you see frozen ground turkey oozing some liquid at the bottom of the sealed box, you should buy a new one to cook.

3. Color

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This is the most challenging way to determine if the ground turkey is bad. Why did I say it is hard? The reason is that it depends a lot on the color when you buy it in the supermarket. It means you have to remember the pink color of your new ground turkey.

If your meat turns from little pink to dull or mainly gray, it can not be used anymore.

That is why you should prefer to pick up the products with a pink color and the longest expiry date. They will be of the highest quality.

Why Does Ground Turkey Go Bad?

I think some of you will be curious about why ground turkey goes bad so quickly. Three factors make ground turkey spoiled faster than usual: expiry date, temperature keeping, and air exposure.

1. Expiry Date

As I said, the expiry date is crucial for any meat, especially ground meat. When you buy it, you should check and make sure the meat is produced on the day you buy it. In that way, you can use it for long days.

As usual, fresh ground meat can be kept for 2-4 days and 3-4 days for cooked ground turkey stored in the fridge after knowing how to store it properly.

In case you keep it in the freezer, it is still fresh and edible for up to 3-4 months.

If you have bought it and it is still in the expiry date allowance, try to use it as soon as possible. Avoid buying ground turkey which does not have a pink color, does not look fresh, or is out of date.

2. Temperature Keeping

With ground turkey, the temperature is one of the most important factors to keep it. An environment that is around 40°F will be beneficial for bacteria and microorganisms to develop up to 4-5 times.

It means these toxic bacterias will harm your ground turkey more quickly. That is why you should not put them in any place with the same condition.

3. Air Exposure

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Unlike sealing it in a container, when ground turkey is exposed to air, it can create a high density of bacteria up to 2 times.

Besides that, the meat will attract other insects, like flies, mosquitoes, etc. That is not good for your meat.

So, you should not leave it in the air too long, especially at high temperatures. Once you see any unusual signs of your ground turkey, discard it and buy the new one because you can put yourself at risk.

How To Store Ground Turkey Properly

A surprising fact is that ground turkey is still safe to eat for up to 1 year in the freezer, but its taste and freshness will decline over time.

You can keep ground turkey in the fridge by the packaging which you buy. In contrast, put it in an aluminum foil and a plastic bag for freezer food if you freeze it.

With ground turkey, you should keep it in the meat drawer. If your fridge doesn’t have one, put the meat where it’s recommended to store raw fish, meat, or poultry – at the back of the lowest shelf. This is the coldest place and most suitable to store ground turkey.

If your ground turkey is already cooked, you can store it in the fridge for subsequent use. Storing the cooked ground turkey is the same as the uncooked one.

Look at this table below to know clearly the time that you can keep the ground turkey fresh.

Types of ground turkeyFridge (40°F or below)Freeze (0°F or below)
Uncooked ground turkey2-4 daysup to 1 year
Cooked ground turkey3-4 daysup to 1 month

Useful Tips:

  • Avoid buying ground turkey after two days sell-by date.
  • Use labels or permanent markers to write the date on the bag to remember the day you use ground turkey.
  • The best temperature in the freezer is 0°F and 4°F in the fridge.
  • Do not put it outside the kitchen if you are not ready to cook it within one hour.
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Do not worry! There is no difficulty in freezing ground turkey at home.

Watch this video: How To Prep Ground Turkey For Freezing

What Do You Need To Do To Defrost Ground Turkey?

To avoid the signs of spoiled ground turkey, defrosting the meat is a necessary process to make your dish ideally. Based on my experience, I have some practical methods for you.

You can prepare frozen ground turkey by letting it overnight in the fridge and using it the next day. However, don’t forget to leave the frozen meat on a spacious and guaranteed leak-proof defrosting tray to prevent the water from melted turkey from spilling all over your fridge.

Another quick way for you is to defrost it in a cold water bowl. The process might take 1-2 hours. Plus, remember to change the water every 30 minutes to ensure it is still cool.

If you are going to cook ground turkey immediately, using a microwave is not a bad option at that moment. You can use the defrost mode on the microwave but cook ground turkey right away after taking it from the microwave.

I do not recommend you to prefer the microwave option due to the high heat. As you know, at the time ground meat starts to warm, bacteria can multiply.

This is time to know how to defrost ground turkey for many delicious foods.

Watch this video: How To Defrost Ground Turkey

Common Notices While Cooking Turkey Meat

There are many ground turkey recipes to enjoy and show your creativity to your family members and friends. But, cooking a ground turkey is not a simple task because you need to focus on the temperature, cooking time etc.

Handling The Meat

With ground turkey, you should not handle the meat too much while preparing for any dish. Over-handling will make the meat become drier and hard to make a finished product.

Therefore, I recommend you just give a soft touch to mix the meat thoroughly with seasonings after oiling your hands.

Cooking Temperature

Some people like to serve ground beef at a medium level, but this level can not apply to ground turkey. It means ground turkey can be eaten once it is totally cooked. Therefore, you must know the signs of thoroughly cooked turkey by heart to avoid undercooking the meat.

You must cook them until they reach the temperature of 165°F inside. If you do not have a thermometer, the alternative option is to check the color of the meat. Look for the brownish color thoroughly for the best cooking meat.

Cooking Time

Besides temperature, cooking time is the factor that you need to focus on. Due to the low-fat content, it becomes dry and lacks taste if overcooked.

As mentioned, you should check out the temperature of ground turkey after a few minutes. When it reaches 165°F with a beautiful brown color, begin to complete your cooking process.


To help you know clearly about the signs of spoiled turkey, I am willing to answer some questions that I received from many people. Take a look to see what problem you often meet and how to solve it.

What should ground turkey taste like?

Turkey after grinding has a chewy texture with a bit of salty taste. The pink color of the meat is an outstanding sign to identify the fresh meat.

However, it becomes dry, has less fat content, and a pale taste while cooking so you should add spices to enhance the flavor.

What happens if I eat spoiled ground turkey?

You have to suffer from bad symptoms like stomach aches, diarrhea or food poisoning, etc. It affects your daily activities and works a lot.

Is it necessary to cover ground turkey in the fridge?

Of course, yes. Covering ground turkey is not only the way to keep it fresh but also to protect other kinds of food in your fridge.

As you can see, if you just put the uncovered meat in the refrigerator, other foods, especially undercooked food, will circulate the air and negatively affect your meat. This phenomenon also occurs between cooked and uncooked food.

I stored my ground turkey in a sealed bag, but the bag was puffed up. What happens?

A puffed package is a sign of bacteria’s appearance. These bacteria “eat” the contents and produce gas inside the bag. However, the gas can not be released from the sealed package. That is why you can see this phenomenon.

You can use it normally if there is no other sign, such as a bad smell, texture, or color.

Is it okay to eat ground turkey after the expiry day?

Actually, it is not recommended. Sometimes, you can forget the day you buy or forget to cook the ground turkey. If you store it and cook it properly, it is still alright, but only after 1-2 days according to the expiry day on the label.

Extra Information Of Ground Turkey Preservation

Thanks to the information above, I think you know how to tell if ground turkey is bad and other techniques to cook and store turkey correctly.

Ground turkey is easily affected by temperature and air exposure. Therefore, ensure that you store it as instructed, or it will go bad in no time.

I hope my post brings valuable knowledge that you can apply in your kitchen. Last but not least, don’t be shy to let me know your cooking experience or any memory of ground turkey.

I can’t wait to see your ideas in the comment section!

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  1. 2021. Turkey: Nutrition, benefits, and diet.
  2. Healthline. 2021. turkey: Nutrition, Calories, Benefits, and More.

Table of Contents

  • How Do I Know Whether Ground Turkey Is Bad?
  • What Is The Truth About Ground Turkey?
    • Ground Turkey Meat – An “Alternative” Of Ground Beef?
  • How To Realize The Signs Of Spoiled Ground Turkey
    • 1. Smell
    • 2. Texture
    • 3. Color
  • Why Does Ground Turkey Go Bad?
    • 1. Expiry Date
    • 2. Temperature Keeping
    • 3. Air Exposure
  • How To Store Ground Turkey Properly
    • Useful Tips:
  • What Do You Need To Do To Defrost Ground Turkey?
  • Common Notices While Cooking Turkey Meat
    • Handling The Meat
    • Cooking Temperature
    • Cooking Time
  • FAQs
  • Extra Information Of Ground Turkey Preservation
  • References
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