You’re hosting a turkey dinner today and your turkey is still frozen!
Can you cook a turkey if you didn’t defrost it?
What factors do you need to consider when cooking a frozen turkey?
Read this article for everything you need to know!
Table of contents
Can You Cook a Partially Frozen Turkey?
You can cook a turkey even if it isn’t fully thawed. You can also cook a fully frozen bird.
It is safe to roast an unthawed turkey.
However, you should not deep-fry, grill, or smoke a turkey that has not been defrosted.
You will have to follow a slightly different procedure, but it is possible.
The turkey may seem like a block of ice now but will be dinner by the end of the day.
If you read the following tips and information, you will be able to successfully cook your turkey.
Even if you didn’t successfully thaw it out on time!
How Do You Cook a Turkey Straight From the Freezer?
The biggest difference between cooking a frozen or a thawed turkey is the roasting time.
By using the proper cooking process, you will achieve successful results.
Below are the essential steps to cook your bird.
Place Frozen Turkey in Oven
Preheat the oven to 325ºF and begin roasting the frozen turkey.
After you unwrap the turkey, place it in a shallow roasting pan. A roasting rack will help with the even distribution of heat.
Let it roast for 2 hours in the oven.
Do not open the door during this time! That will let hot air out and increase the cooking time.
Season the Turkey
After 2 hours, the turkey should be cooking quite nicely.
The legs will probably be about 100ºF.
This is a good time to season the turkey. Maybe brush melted butter with seasoning around the bird.
You can add salt and pepper to the buttery spread for some extra flavor.
You can even create an herb butter or incorporate citrusy flavors if you’d like.
If you see any ice cubes inside the turkey, you can try to take them out. If they’re really in there, you can wait until they melt.
Empty the Turkey’s Cavity
At the 3-hour mark (or sooner), you can empty the cavity of the turkey.
This means you can remove the neck and giblets if they were stored inside the turkey.
You should also use a turkey baster to remove any liquid that is inside the turkey.
You can reserve this liquid for homemade gravy later.
Use a meat thermometer to check the progress.
The turkey breast should have an internal temperature of 50ºF at this point.
Finish Roasting the Turkey
After 5 hours in the oven, the turkey should be ready.
Use a meat thermometer to see if the turkey reached a safe temperature of 165ºF in the breast.
If it is still cold or frozen on the inside, then it is not ready.
Keep cooking until the thickest part of the meat reaches a safe temperature.
Let the Turkey Rest
You should let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes, this allows the meat to become juicy and delicious.
Now you can carve the turkey and serve it. Everyone will enjoy this meat that you cooked all day.
How Long for a Turkey From the Freezer to the Table?
You can expect a frozen turkey to take 50% longer to cook than its defrosted counterparts.
For a partially frozen turkey, you should expect about 25% longer.
A frozen 12-pound turkey should take about 4.5 hours at 325ºF. A 15-pound turkey would take nearly 6 hours.
A 20-pound turkey will take about 6 hours and 45 minutes.
It’s harder to judge the cooking time for a partially frozen turkey.
However, the important thing to remember is that it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
It is important to use an accurate food thermometer.
Always check the temperature at the thickest part of the bird without touching the bone.
Can You Quickly Thaw a Frozen Turkey?
There are a few ways to quickly thaw a frozen turkey if you forgot to start days in advance.
You can defrost an icy turkey by submerging it in a cold water bath.
The microwave method is another quick way to defrost frozen meat.
Both the microwave and cold water methods can speed up the thawing process.
Never thaw a turkey at room temperature or in hot water.
This entails keeping the turkey at dangerous temperatures for too long.
This can lead to food poisoning and make the whole family sick.
Pros and Cons: Cooking a Frozen Turkey
If you’re not sure about cooking a frozen turkey, here are some pros and cons to help you decide.
Pros of Cooking a Frozen Turkey
The extra cooking time means more drippings for your homemade gravy.
You can save room in your fridge for the week leading up to your turkey dinner.
Breast meat is often juicier when cooked frozen. It will also taste good.
Most people won’t even know you cooked your turkey from frozen when they sit down at the table to eat.
Challenges of Cooking a Frozen Turkey
Cooking an entire turkey from frozen uses extra time.
Having an entire bird in the oven means you won’t have as much room for other dishes.
You can only roast a turkey that’s frozen. The deep fryer, smoker, and grill are not safe options.
You cannot brine a turkey before it thaws (at least mostly). This means that you may miss out on some delicious turkey flavor.
Now that you know how to cook a turkey from frozen, you’re ready to get started!
Your guests will fill up on turkey and leave happy.
Whether you like white or dark meat, you’ll enjoy this new family recipe.
You’ll probably even gladly eat your leftover turkey this holiday season.
You can even send some home with your guests and see if this recipe becomes a family favorite!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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