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Ways to Tell if Turkey Is Bad

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Turkey meat does not last forever! As expected of any organic foodstuff, turkey meat will go bad if not stored correctly. Sometimes, even with proper storage, turkey meat will lose its freshness with time.

It goes without saying, but stale turkey meat is not something anyone should consume. Consuming it will leave you at risk of various health issues like food poisoning.

Now, if you are the type that is never certain of the freshness of your turkey, this post is for you. In this piece, we narrate various ways to tell if turkey is bad. We’ll also go over ways to check if raw turkey and cooked turkey are still safe for consumption.

Raw turkey meat on a wooden chopping board.

3 Ways to Tell if Raw Turkey Is Bad


When fresh, raw turkey should have almost the same mild, slight odor raw chicken has. But when you start to notice a strong smell from your raw turkey, it may have started to turn.

In some cases, the intense odor coming from your spoiled raw turkey will smell like sulfur burps or rotten eggs. This is not surprising since turkey meat is proteinous.

Spoiled raw turkey meat may also have a gamey smell. So, if your raw turkey is rotten, expect an unusual and unpleasant odor.


Fresh raw turkey has pale white, off-white, light pink, or cream-colored skin. But when raw turkey loses its freshness, the color of its skin will change.

When the color of the skin of the turkey turns darker, then it is spoiled. For instance, if you notice that the pale white or light pink skin has turned grey, you should discard such turkey meat.

Besides an outright change in color, if you notice that the color of the turkey skin is duller than when you bought it, something may be wrong.


If you notice that the skin of your raw turkey meat has become slimy, you should discard it immediately. Sliminess is a sure sign of rot in raw turkey.

Do not attempt to taste or eat turkey that has become slimy. The appearance of slime on a piece of turkey is indicative of elevated bacterial activity. So, if you go ahead and cook this kind of turkey meat, you may possibly get infected with Salmonella.

Ensure you wash every item that comes in contact with the slimy turkey.

Turkey steak raw with basil on board

3 Ways to Tell if Cooked Turkey Is Bad


Like raw turkey, you can tell when cooked turkey has gone bad by the smell. Cooked turkey should smell like the seasonings you used in preparing it. But when this smell fades and is replaced by a sour odor, the turkey is unfit for consumption.

Cooked turkey may also take on other unpleasant smells when bad. So, if you notice any intense odor different from what you had when you cooked it, suspect spoilage.


Cooked turkey may also become slimy when bad. As hinted before, the slime on turkey (cooked or raw) is produced by bacteria. Therefore, one should never taste suspicious turkey to verify its freshness. Doing so opens one to possible enteritis.

If you notice slime on your cooked turkey, discard it immediately, and wash every item it touched.

Color and Mold

If your cooked turkey appears to be getting darker than it was when you cooked it, it may be going bad. Any color that was not on the turkey when you cooked it signifies possible spoilage. This discoloration may be greenish, grey, or yellowish. A foul smell or slimy texture should confirm your suspicion.

Mold growth on turkeys is a bit rare, but it is possible. If your turkey retains a lot of moisture after you cook it, it may show some mold growth when it goes bad.

Slicing from a homemade artisan turkey meat

3 Ways to Tell if Sliced Turkey Is Bad

Like raw turkey, sliced turkey will show discoloration and sliminess when bad. It may also give off an unpleasant odor.


Basically, if your sliced turkey looks less appealing than it was when you bought it, it has started losing freshness. Then if you notice any significant discoloration, the sliced turkey may have begun to rot.

The discoloration may be greyish, brownish, or black. It may also be any color substantially different from the usual light pink, off-white, or light orange color of sliced turkey.


When fresh, you should not really perceive any smell from sliced turkey passively. So, when you start smelling something off from the turkey without trying, it is spoiled. You should discard this sliced turkey.


Slight sliminess on sliced turkey may not signify spoilage. Lactobacillus typically feed on the sugar flavoring manufacturers add to sliced turkey, leading to slime production. Lactobacillus are usually harmless, so the slime might not be a problem unless it comes with an intense, unpleasant odor and marked discoloration.

In other words, if the sliced turkey is slightly slimy, has its usual color, and has a mild smell, it should be okay. But if you notice discoloration or an offensive odor, it has gone bad.

Raw turkey breast fillet meat on a cutting board

Ways to Tell if Ground Turkey Is Bad

When ground turkey goes bad, it undergoes just about the same changes we discussed under raw turkey. The primary difference between ground turkey and larger pieces of turkey is the rate of spoilage.

Ground turkey is in smaller bits, so it has a relatively larger surface area than larger turkey pieces. The elevated surface area of ground turkey increases its chance of getting contaminated by bacteria. Hence, the higher rate of spoilage.

What Does Bad Turkey Smell Like?

Bad turkey can smell like sulfur burps or rotten eggs. It may also smell sour, and it may smell like ammonia/urine, vinegar, or yeast.

What Does Bad Turkey Taste Like?

The odor from bad turkey is usually pretty offensive. So, in many cases, people never taste it.

However, if you do eat bad turkey, you may taste a lot of sliminess from it. Then, of course, it will not taste anything like fresh turkey. Bad turkey may taste bland and flavorless.

man cuts off and takes a piece of the Christmas Turkey

What Does Bad Turkey Look Like?

Fresh turkey usually looks light pink, off-white, or light orange.

Bad turkey, on the other hand, may look like a duller shade of fresh turkey. Bad turkey may also be discolored; colors like grey, black, green, and brown are seen when a piece of turkey goes bad.


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