How To Cook A Turkey From Frozen For A Perfect Dinner

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How To Cook A Turkey From FrozenDid you forget to thaw the turkey? No problem! You can easily cook a delicious turkey from frozen with these easy tips.

How To Cook A Turkey From Frozen

Have you ever been the one to host a big Thanksgiving dinner at your home and then woke up to realize that you forgot to thaw the turkey?

Don’t panic!

You can easily cook a turkey from frozen and still have it be a perfectly cooked, moist and delicious turkey dinner.

When I was a girl our family always cooked our Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys from frozen. I had no idea until I was an adult that most people thawed them out before cooking! No one in my family ever did that.

We simply placed the frozen turkey into a roasting pan, surround the edges with potatoes and onions and let it roast until it was ready. Those turkeys were always so good!

Besides, if you have ever bought a pre-stuffed turkey for Thanksgiving it says right on the packages not to thaw the turkey before cooking it!

So whether you totally forgot to thaw the bird or found yourself hosting Thanksgiving at the last minute don’t worry you can cook a turkey from frozen and have an awesome holiday dinner.

Perfect Side Dishes For Your Turkey Dinner

How Does A Turkey Cooked From Frozen Taste?

You might be surprised but a turkey that’s been cooked from frozen actually tastes delicious!

One of the biggest challenges when cooking a turkey is keeping the breast meat from drying out. But when you cook a turkey from frozen the breast meat cooks slower. This helps it to stay moister and it’s honestly my favourite way to cook turkeys. It’s just so easy!

Is It Safe To Cook A Turkey From Frozen?

Yes, it is safe to cook a turkey that is still frozen, even the USDA says it’s perfectly safe to cook a frozen turkey.

Actually, I think that in many ways it’s safer to cook a turkey from frozen because when you are getting it ready to roast it’s not dripping icky bacteria filled juice all over your sink.

How long does it take to cook a frozen turkey?

Cooking a frozen turkey is really easy, but it does take 50% longer to cook a frozen turkey than a thawed one.

So make sure to start it roasting early in the day and have lots of snacks ready for your guest to enjoy until dinner is ready.

Estimated Cooking Times For Frozen Turkeys

  • 8 to 12-pound turkey – 4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • 12 to 14-pound turkey – 4 1/2 to 5 3/4 hours
  • 14 to 18-pound turkey – 5 3/4 to 6 1/4 hours
  • 18 to 20-pound turkey – 6 1/4 to 6 3/4 hours
  • 20 to 24-pound turkey – 6 3/4 to 7 1/2 hours

Butterball has an easy to use online calculator that will help you decide what size turkey you need for the number of guests your planning to have. I love that it also gives you the cooking time for thawed turkey, stuffed turkeys and of course frozen turkeys!

Can you cook a turkey if it is still partially frozen?

Yes! If you started to thaw your turkey but it’s still partially frozen you can still roast it. A partially thawed turkey will cook faster than a fully frozen one but slower then a fully thawed turkey will.

Just make sure to keep an eye on the temperature after the first few hours of cooking or use a popup thermometer to know when your turkey is done.

Set of 4 Turkey Pop- Up Timer - ChefStyle Pop-Up Cooking Kitchen ToolSet of 4 Turkey Pop- Up Timer – ChefStyle Pop-Up Cooking Kitchen ToolSet of 4 Turkey Pop- Up Timer - ChefStyle Pop-Up Cooking Kitchen ToolLavatools PT12 Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer (Chipotle)Lavatools PT12 Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer (Chipotle)Lavatools PT12 Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer (Chipotle)

How To Cook A Turkey From Frozen

Step 1. Pre Heat The Oven & Prep The Turkey

Your first step will be to get the oven warming up. Most directions recommend cooking a turkey at 325 F but I’ve found that using 350 F cooks the bird a little faster but doesn’t dry it out. That is the way my family has always cooked our holiday turkeys.

Put the frozen turkey in your sink and let the hot water run over it for 2 minutes. Then cut the plastic wrapping and peel it off.

Cooking A Frozen Turkey

Place the turkey on a rack inside your roasting pan. Then add 1 cup of water to the bottom. This will prevent the drippings from burning until the turkey has thawed out more.

If you don’t have a rack for your roasting pan just cut up some potatoes and onions and layer these on the bottom of the roast and place the turkey on top of these.

Place the lid on your roasting pan and put it in the oven to roast for 2 hours.

If you don’t have a lid for your roaster then make a foil tent over the top with some aluminum foil. Just make sure that it’s loose so the air can circulate around the bird. This helps it cook faster.

Seasoning A Frozen Turkey

Step 2. Remove Giblets & Season The Turkey

After about 2 hours remove the turkey from the oven and check the temperature of the thigh. It should be about 90 to 100 F at this point.

Having a digital meat thermometer makes knowing when your turkey is fully cooked so much easier!

Also, check to see if the giblet bag has thawed enough to remove. It is normally found in the neck but may also be in the cavity. Remove both the giblet bag and the neck from the bird.

If it is still too frozen to remove the giblets you can check it again in about 30 minutes.

Lift up one side of the rack in the roasting pan so that the juices that are filling up in the turkey cavity can drain out.

Baste the skin with melted butter and then sprinkle your favourite seasonings over the turkey. I love to use some paprika it gives the skin a deep red look as well as rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper.

Step 3. Continue Roasting

Place the turkey back into the oven and continue to cook until all parts of the turkey register 165F. The easiest way to check is to take the temperature of the turkey thigh first. Once it has reached 165F, you can check the wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Easy Moist Thanksgiving Turkey

Once the turkey is fully cooked remove it from the oven, cover it with foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

While the turkey is resting this is the perfect time to make gravy from the pan drippings.

What To Do If The Turkey Is Still Frozen Inside?

Cook A Turkey From Frozen

Put it back into the oven and keep cooking it!

I know you’ve been waiting for that turkey to cook but if it’s still frozen on the inside that means that the meat is still uncooked. It’s just not safe to eat yet.

So place the turkey back into the oven and continue to cook it until a pop-up thermometer reaches 175 to 185 C in the thigh. Double check the temperature of the breast meat to make sure it’s at least 165 F.

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How To Cook A Turkey From Frozen

Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey From Frozen

Forget to thaw the turkey? Don’t worry! Here is how you can cook a turkey from frozen really easily.

  • Author: Kim @ Homestead Acres
  • Prep Time: 00:10
  • Cook Time: 04:30
  • Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Roasting

Ingredients

  • Turkey
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tyme

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Place the turkey in your sink and run hot water over it for 2 minutes. Then cut and remove the plastic bag. Place the turkey ontop of a rack in your roasting pan.
  3. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the roaster, put the lid on and place it in the oven for 2 hours.
  4. After 2 hours is up remove the turkey from the oven and carefully tilt the roasting pan rack up on one end so that the juices that have collected inside of the turkey cavity run out.
  5. Remove the giblets and neck from the bird. If it hasn’t thawed enough to remove the giblets check it again after cooking for another 30 minutes.
  6. Baste the turkey skin with melted butter and then sprinkle your favourite seasonings over it. Try using salt, pepper, sage, thyme, rosemary, and if you like a dark red skin sprinkle a little paprika too.
  7. Place the turkey back into the oven and continue to roast until done.
  8. When the turkey has reached 165F in the thickest parts on your thermometer remove it from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Keywords: Thanksgiving Turkey, how to cook a turkey, cooking a frozen turkey, Christmas Turkey Dinner

The only downside to cooking a turkey from frozen is that you can’t put any rubs under the skin or stuff the bird before cooking. But I prefer to put the seasonings onto the skin and cook our sausage stuffing on the side since we always make a lot of stuffing anyway.

So don’t panic if you forgot to thaw that turkey, just follow these easy steps and you’ll have a great turkey dinner to share with your family.

Kim Homestead Acres

Kim Mills is a homeschooling mom of 6 and lives on an urban homestead in Ontario, Canada. Blogging at Homestead Acres she enjoys sharing tips to help you save money, grow and preserve your own food.


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  • Holly says:

    Anyone who uses this method, it is 100% essential to use a meat thermometer to check the very centre of your turkey. Having known someone who almost died of salmonella poisoning through eating an insufficiently cooked turkey I cannot emphasis how essential it is to test its thoroughly cooked.
    Personally I wouldn’t cook vegetables with it, but would drain off all the fluid, bring it to the boil for a minute and use to make gravy.