Thawing a frozen turkey can take days, so what will you do if you wake up on Thanksgiving morning with a block of ice? Can you cook a frozen turkey?
The answer is YES! So don’t panic! You can still have a delicious and beautiful centerpiece for your holiday feast tonight!
Cooking a frozen turkey is even approved by the USDA, so you can set aside your worries. This method is not even as hard as it seems. Plus, this post is here to help so you can cook your frozen turkey safely and successfully!
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Can you cook a frozen turkey without thawing?
Yes. Thawing is a must but if you are running out of time, you can definitely cook a turkey in its frozen or partially frozen state.
Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator can take several days depending on its size. On the other hand, thawing frozen turkey using the cold water method can also take hours. If you still have enough time, you can check out this guide on how to safely thaw turkey for more info!
Cooking frozen turkey is possible but, of course, it will need a longer cooking time. Since this is also not the traditional way to cook a turkey, you will also have to skip the stuffing, marinating, brining, and fancy rubs.
This cooking method might not be the perfect way to make the best turkey, it’s still a great option that you can try to save the star of your Thanksgiving meal.
How do I cook a frozen turkey?
Roasting using the oven is the best way to cook a frozen turkey. Plus, this cooking method is also pretty simple and straightforward.
Roasting is the best method to use because you cannot deep fry or smoke your frozen turkey. Deep frying frozen turkey is not safe because the difference in the temperature of your frozen turkey and hot oil can result in violent boil overs and explosions.
On the other hand, the smoking method involves cooking at low temperatures and longer cooking times which can put the turkey in the danger zone for bacteria. Using this cooking method will highly likely result in the increased growth of bacteria in your turkey.
You can use your Instant Pot to cook frozen turkey but only if you are using a turkey breast or a smaller turkey. A 6 Quart Instant Pot can cook up to 7 lbs of frozen turkey while the 8 Quart Instant Pot can cook up to 10 lbs only.
Useful Kitchen Tools For Cooking Frozen Turkey:
Now that you know that you can cook a frozen turkey, take this chance to double check your kitchen to make sure that you already have these items on hand. These kitchen tools will be especially useful in cooking frozen turkey, but they will also come in handy in whipping up other Thanksgiving recipes.
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- Rachael Ray Roasting Pan with Rack
- Digital Food Thermometer
- Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil
- Extra Large Sheet Baking Pan and Cooling Rack Set
What is the best way to cook a frozen turkey?
Roasting method works best because the process allows the turkey to thaw as it starts to cook. When roasting frozen turkey, all you have to remember is to increase the cooking time by 50% if it’s frozen solid and 25% if only partially frozen.
Roasting frozen turkey will also allow you to have a juicier turkey breast since it will cook slower, unlike when you have a thawed turkey. Plus, the crust will also be browner and crispier!
Roasting a Frozen Turkey
Here’s the step by step process to roast frozen turkey in the oven.
Start by preheating the oven to 325°F. Unwrap the turkey and leave the giblets inside for the meantime.
Line a roasting pan or baking sheet pan with foil so the liquid from the turkey won’t drain out and steam. Put a roasting rack on top of the pan, then place the frozen turkey breast side up.
Pop it in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours without peeking to let it thaw and partially cook.
After the said time frame, use a meat thermometer to check if the thickest area of the breast or thighs has reached 100–125 °F. If it’s colder or still frozen, return the turkey in the oven and let it roast longer. Check the temperature periodically until it reaches the said temperature.
Once the turkey is thawed enough, use tongs or a fork to pull the giblets and the neck out. Take note that giblets usually come in plastic bags so don’t forget to remove them. Plus, you can also use them to make gravy.
After removing the giblets, coat the turkey with butter or olive oil and season it with salt, pepper, herbs, and other aromatics such as sage, thyme, or rosemary.
Roast the turkey for more hours depending on the size. You can find and check the estimated cooking times according to the different weights of turkeys below.
Check the turkey every now and then and top it with aluminum foil if it looks like the crust is starting to burn.
Cook the turkey until the thickest part of the breast has reached 165 °F, and the legs and thighs are at 175ºF.
Once cooked, pull the turkey out of the oven and let it rest uncovered for 30 minutes, then carve, serve, and enjoy!
How long does it take to cook a frozen turkey?
According to the USDA’s guidelines, the frozen turkey should be cooked 50% longer than fully thawed turkey. After the partial cook time of 2 to 2 1/2 hours, you should roast your turkey for more hours as listed below:
- 8–12 lbs: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
- 12–14 lbs: 2 to 3 hours
- 14–20 lbs: 3 to 4 hours
- 20–24 lbs: 4 to 5 hours
Looking for more recipes?
Hopefully, this post was able to help you in cooking frozen turkey. If you need more Thanksgiving or turkey recipe ideas, you’ll love to check out these fun roundups of recipes.
These recipes are sure to wow the crowd and make your holiday feast even more enjoyable.
- How to Stuff a Turkey or Chicken
- Recipes Using Thanksgiving Leftovers
- 12 Meatloaf Recipes To Try Tonight!
- Weight Watchers Ground Turkey Recipes
- 25 Quick and Easy Meals with Ground Turkey
- 20 Creative Recipes for Turkey Breast
- 25 Recipes with Turkey Breast
- 15 Leftover Turkey Recipes Ideas
- Easy Recipes For Leftover Turkey