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The smell is horrible, isn’t it? 

People often complain about this disgusting smell of ground turkey. So yeah you’re not alone.

But which factors are to blame if ground turkey smells like wet dog

Well, the most obvious reason for the smell can be due to the ground meat being spoiled. A bad piece of meat will always give off a sickening smell. If the meat hasn’t been spoiled then there can be another reason. And that’s because it may have been vacuum packed.  

Now there’s more to know about this very issue. That’s why we’ve explained the reasons and the solutions in simple words. 

Therefore, don’t forget to read our entire piece. 

Why Does Ground Turkey Meat Smell Like Wet Dog?

It’s often said that fresh and good ground turkey meat has no smell. Thus, if your ground turkey smells bad, you do have a reason to be worried. 

Now, you might not know but the ‘wet dog smell’ is actually a mixture of different odors. 

One of the smells you’ll get for sure is the smell of sulfur. The smell is also similar to the odor of rotten eggs. So, if you’re here because your ground turkey smells like rotten eggs, just keep on reading. 

Well, there are mainly two reasons why you’ll get this smell from the ground turkey. Let’s get to know them-. 

First of all, if your ground turkey was vacuum packed, take a breath of relief. Why?

Because every type of meat that stays in a vacuum-sealed package smells bad at first. 

For example, vacuum packed pork can smell bad right after opening the package. Because there isn’t any oxygen in the package. And it’s a similar case for vacuum sealed ground turkey too.

You see, as the meat stays in an anaerobic environment, its juices start to break down. And because of that, if you open the package, you get a pungent smell. 

However, you can get rid of the vacuum packed turkey smell by following some steps. We’ve listed up those steps later in this piece. 

But there’s a catch-

If the ground turkey smell is really strong and bad, it can indicate that the meat is spoiled. Now, if you want to identify whether the meat is actually bad or not, just read along.

How to Tell If Ground Turkey Meat Is Bad or Not?



For ground meat, it can be a little difficult to identify if the meat is spoiled or not. But hey, it’s still possible. You just need to check three basic things regarding the ground turkey. 

So, let’s get to know those things, shall we?

Check the Package 

If you’ve brought the meat from a butcher’s shop, you don’t need to check the package thoroughly. However, if it’s vacuum packed grounded meat, definitely take a look at the packaging. 

Did the package have air inside? Was it looking like a balloon before opening it? 

If yes, then don’t even bother thinking about eating the turkey. Because my friend, the meat is spoiled. 

Here’s the thing-

The vacuum sealed package should be pressed against the meat. There shouldn’t be any air inside. If air does get inside, the bacteria will start multiplying. And eventually, the meat will turn bad. 

Check the Use-by Date

Sometimes even if the packaging is alright, the meat can cross its use-by date. The use-by date will tell you for how long the meat is safe to eat.

If the date has expired, don’t just wait! Throw the meat away. Trust us, you don’t even have to open the package. 

Check Turkey Meat Color

Now, if the meat is within date, you need to identify the quality of the meat. Because sometimes, even if the meat hasn’t expired, it can go bad. 

Thus, after getting the ground turkey out of the package, you’ve to check the color of it. 


A good ground turkey will have a light pink color to it. Therefore, if the meat has a darker color, there’s a possibility it has gone bad. Even if the discoloration is on some parts of the ground turkey, you’ve to throw out the whole portion.                                  


To be extra sure, you’ve to feel the texture of the meat. Ground turkey should have a moist feel to it. It can even have a wet and juicy texture. 

But if your ground turkey feels sticky and slimy, you’ve to stop the further inspection. Because these conditions are an obvious indication of spoiled meat. 

Now, if the meat survived all the checkpoints, you can be assured the meat is still edible. And the smell is basically because of the vacuum packaging. 

How to Eliminate the Bad Smell Before Cooking?

Eliminating the wet dog smell from your vacuum-packed ground turkey is quite easy. You only have to follow three steps. And we promise you, these steps will be only 1-1.5 hours long

Thus, let’s quickly look at the steps-

Let the Ground Meat Air Out

First, you’ve to let the meat air out at normal room temperature( 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit). To complete the air out process, you need to wait for 30 minutes. This process will surely get rid of at least 40-50% of the smell.

For you, we’ve guessed how much smell will transfer within the 30 minutes-

TimeSmell transfer
10 minutes 10-15%
15-20 minutes 30%
30 minutes 40-50%

However, the smell transfer might vary. Also, you might see a slight discoloration. But that’s due to the meat getting oxygen after a while. Thus, there’s no need to panic.

Rinse the Ground Meat Gently 

After completing the air out process, you need to move on to rinsing the meat. If you didn’t know, rinsing can also tenderize tough corned beef.

Anyway, to rinse the ground turkey, you’ll need a metal strainer. Just place the ground turkey on the strainer. And then pour fresh tap water at least 2-3 times on the meat

Throughout this process, the excess fat and blood (if present) will wash away. As a result, the smell will also start disappearing. 

Dry the Ground Meat and Let It Sit

Once you’re done rinsing, you’ve to head straight towards drying it. And yes, drying ground meat is important. Because cooking with wet meat can mess up your recipe. 

On that note, grab yourself some paper towels, and place the meat on them. Press the paper towel on the meat gently. This will help the water get absorbed easily. 

After that, wait 30 minutes before getting to the cooking part. Within this time the ground meat will get back its natural smell and color. However, there’s a 10-20% chance of the ground turkey still smelling bad. So, if that happens in your case, you’ve to throw it away. Because the meat is most certainly spoiled. 

And if the smell isn’t there anymore, you can start cooking the ground turkey on the stove or oven. You can follow different recipes to cook your ground turkey. 

And you can even store the raw meat if you want. Just make sure you use good-quality vacuum sealer bags this time. Or else there’s a high chance of your ground meat getting spoiled while refrigerating it. 

So far, we’ve seen these bags performing perfectly in every situation-

  1. SimpleHouseware 11″ x 50 Feet Vacuum Sealer Bags
  2. Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8×50

However, while using the bags you’ve to remember one essential thing. And that is sealing the bags properly to air bubbles. 

Why Does Ground Turkey Smell Like Wet Dog When Cooking?


Yup, it’s possible for your stored ground turkey to smell odd when you start cooking it. 

And this odd or funny smell can vary. However, it doesn’t automatically make the meat bad. 

If the meat smells funny but doesn’t make you sick, the meat is still good. You can keep on cooking it and can also eat it. However, the decision is yours. 

You’ve to choose whether to eat funny-smelling ground turkey or not. If you don’t want to eat it, don’t hesitate to throw the meat away. Because remember, you can’t compromise your health.

Now, if the smell is sickening, the meat has definitely gone bad. You might wonder how it went bad even after keeping it in the freezer.

Well, my friend, you can’t really keep the ground turkey in your freezer forever. 

According to most meat lovers, ground turkey can’t be kept in the freezer for more than 2 days. So, if you’ve stored it for a week, you’ve to put the blame on yourself. 

But that’s okay! We all learn from our mistakes. That’s why from now on, keep the ground meat in the freezer for only 1-2 days

How to Know If Frozen Meat Will Smell Bad Before Cooking?

Sometimes it gets hard to tell if frozen meat is actually spoiled. And you’ll only realize the meat was spoiled after you start cooking it. And that’s due to the pungent smell it’ll give off. 

It’s pretty depressing, to be honest. But luckily, there’s an effective way to avoid bad-smelling ground turkey before cooking. 

And that is browning and draining the meat before starting to work on a recipe. These two processes will help you identify whether the frozen meat is bad or not.  


For your comfort, we’ve mentioned the steps you should follow to complete both processes-

  • First, you’ve to defrost the frozen ground turkey. You can use both your microwave and refrigerator for the defrosting. 
  • After that, preheat your frying pan. Then place the defrosted ground turkey in the pan.
  • Provide heat to the meat for 15-20 minutes. The heat will start changing the color of the meat. Just how some egg whites turn green after receiving heat.
  • Keep on heating the meat till it gets whitish brown. Next, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. If the meat reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s safe to eat
  • Lastly, put the ground turkey on some paper towels to absorb the excess fat and liquid.

Now, if the meat doesn’t smell after these two processes, it isn’t spoiled! And if it does, immediately discard it.


What to do if ground turkey smells sour when cooking?

Well, there’s only one thing you can do. And that one thing is- stop cooking immediately and throw the meat. Because the ground turkey meat has gone bad. And you should not think of eating that spoiled meat.

Can cooked ground turkey smell odd?

Yup, it can smell. Fresh ground turkey doesn’t really have any smell to it. However, once you start cooking it, it can give off a strong turkey smell. And that’s all you’ll get from good meat. But if the meat has gone bad, it can smell sour and sickening. 

What happens if you eat bad ground turkey?

Well, the answer is pretty obvious. You’ll get sick. Food poisoning will be the first disease you’ll get. But you’ll get a severe type of food poisoning within 6-24 hours. So yeah please don’t bad ground turkey.

How to tell if raw turkey is bad

We’ve discussed this very issue in the ‘is your ground turkey spoiled’ segment. Do check it out again. And to shortly answer this, you’ve to check the meat packaging and expiration date first. Then you’ve to test the color and texture of the meat.

Bottom Line

That’s all on why ground turkey smells like wet dog. By the way, did you know ground turkey carries lots of bacteria with it? That’s why it gets spoiled soon and gives off a bad smell. 

Now, what was the cause behind the bad smell? 

Let us know your answer in the comment box. Lastly, good luck!

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