Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Did You Forget to Thaw the Turkey? Bake it from Frozen!


If you are like me, you either forgot to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator five days in advance, or it is hard to make room in the refrigerator when you have so many other Thanksgiving feast items and ingredients in there.

Well, Thanksgiving isn't ruined. You can bake your turkey from frozen! This isn't a fancy turkey, this is a "get the job done" turkey. You won't be able to brine this turkey or inject all sorts of fancy seasonings, etc., but you will have an actual cooked turkey to serve if you blew it in the thawing department.

Here the the sources I found to back this up:
  1. Williams-Sonoma blog
  2. the kitchn website
  3. The Mayo Clinic (of all places!)
  4. Wikihow 
Here's what you do:


Cooking a Frozen Turkey


Frozen turkey


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Unwrap turkey and place in roasting pan. No need to wash turkey. Bacteria won't have time to grow.

Place the turkey in the oven and bake for two hours. After two hours, check to see if the turkey is thawed enough to remove the giblet packet. If the packet is a paper packet, you can actually cook it in the turkey, but if it is plastic, it has to be removed, otherwise it will melt. If the giblet packet is plastic and it melts, it will contaminate your turkey with harmful chemicals and you will have to throw the whole thing out (packet, turkey, and all). My packet was made from paper, but I still opted to remove it. I wasn't able to remove mine until around the three hour mark though. I never did get the neck out (until I was actually cleaning the bones after carving the turkey), however, the neck can safely cook inside the whole time.

From completely frozen to completely cooked, your turkey will take about 50 percent longer to cook than normal. So, if you have a 21 pound turkey (like I did) that would normally take about 5 hours to cook, you have to add a 50 percent longer cooking time--or 2 1/2 hours--for a total of 7 1/2 hours of cooking time.

The turkey cooks as it thaws, and all bacteria that might have an opportunity to grow as the turkey usually thaws has no opportunity to grow and do any damage when you bake the turkey from frozen.

The skin on my turkey started to brown pretty early, so I tented it lightly with a little aluminum foil to keep it from over-browning and drying out.

You will want to use a meat thermometer to test different parts of the bird, but when all of your readings come out at 165 degrees or higher, your turkey is done.

Estimated Cooking Times for Frozen Turkeys:

8-12 lb. turkey: 4 to 4 1/2 hours
12-14 lb. turkey: 4 1/2 to 5 3/4 hours
14-18 lb. turkey: 5 3/4 to 6 1/4 hours
18-20 lb. turkey: 6 1/4 to 6 3/4 hours
20-24 lb. turkey: 6 3/4 to 7 1/2 hours

Source: The four websites listed above.

Notes: Surprisingly, my turkey was well done throughout and yet still quite moist. The moisture frozen within the turkey acted as a natural basting process as the turkey cooked. This worked great!

On the actual day of Thanksgiving this year, I made my turkey in a slow cooker (I bought two full turkey breasts and cut out the backbone and fit them into my two slow cookers). However, I had bought a full turkey to make around Christmas time just so we could have turkey sandwiches. I ended up getting a terrible cold right before Christmas break and I was too sick and tired to cook a turkey. I ended up making the turkey in February! It was a very last minute decision. One morning I thought, "I should see if I can bake a turkey from frozen." When I found out I could, I thought, "Great. I am getting that turkey out of my freezer and baking it today. We are having turkey sandwiches for dinner tonight!"

Oh, and since one of the sources is the Mayo Clinic, you know this has to be a safe thing to do!

Also, I didn't think to take a picture of the finished turkey before I started carving it, so the only pictures I have were after I sliced the turkey up to put it in the fridge.

1 comment:

  1. I bet Jeremiah loved that turkey in February. Sounds good.