Last-Minute Turkey Cooking Tips: Forget To Thaw Your Turkey? Not Leave Enough Time To Cook It? Here's How To Get Out Of A Thanksgiving Jam

Last-Minute Turkey Cooking Tips: Forget To Thaw Your Turkey? Not Leave Enough Time To Cook It? Here’s How To Get Out Of A Thanksgiving Jam

Did you forget to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey? Not leave yourself enough time to cook it?

A Thanksgiving crisis like that may be enough to make you cancel the entire meal and head out to get Chinese food instead, but there’s actually a way to get out of these turkey day jams and still get your meal in time.

As anyone who has ever slaved over a Thanksgiving dinner knows, cooking a turkey is a time-intensive process. You need to thaw the bird many hours — sometimes even days — in advance, prep the entire thing, and roast it in the oven for hours upon hours. But things tend to come up unexpectedly on Thanksgiving as well. Maybe you forgot to take it out of the freezer, or maybe you had a few too many whiskey sours with friends on Wednesday night and failed to wake up in time to get it in the oven.

But there is a solution. First step — breathe. It’s not the end of the world, and even if you have to delay the Thanksgiving meal by a little bit there are still tips on how to cook a turkey that you’ve forgotten to thaw and instructions on how to cook the entire bird in just 90 minutes.

First, here are tips for those who forgot to thaw their turkey. For the health-conscious chefs, this may actually be a blessing in disguise. Sam Beattie, a food safety specialist at Iowa State University, explained that it’s actually better to cook the turkey while it’s still frozen.

“So you forgot to thaw the turkey for holiday dining — everything will be OK,” Beattie said. “Actually, from a food safety standpoint it’s safer to cook the turkey when it’s still frozen. A frozen turkey will not spread raw juices around the kitchen, will not waste water as you try to thaw it and will produce an excellent and juicy cooked product.”

Beattie explained that those who forgot to thaw their turkey can just throw it in the oven frozen and remove the giblets once it’s been in the oven for about three hours. The Iowa State University Extension website explained how it works.

To cook a 12-14 pound turkey that is still frozen, you will need a food thermometer (bimetallic quick read or digital quick read), a shallow baking pan and rack large enough for the turkey, and aluminum foil. Cooking time (at 325 F) depends upon the size of the turkey and final internal temperature (165 to 180 F). Plan on 5 to 5 1/2 hours cooking time for a 12-14 pound turkey, but measure the internal temperature before finally removing the turkey from the oven.

The full step-by-step instructions on how to cook a frozen turkey can be found here.

If you find yourself with an unthawed turkey and a deep fryer, avoid the temptation to throw it in. If you want to see why that’s a bad idea, check out the video below.

There’s one crisis averted. But what if you realize that you don’t have five and a half hours to wait before the turkey is done? If the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is ending and the football pregame is coming on with the turkey still in the refrigerator, that means you’re looking at eating Thanksgiving dinner sometime around eight o’clock at night.

But there’s a solution to this crisis as well. The cooking blog The Crepes of Wrath has a recipe on how to cook a turkey in just 90 minutes. While the recipe calls for curing the turkey overnight with salt, if it’s morning and you’re pressed for time, you will just have to skip this step.

The full instructions on how to cook a turkey in 90 minutes can be found here. For those who learn better visually, instructions can be found in the video below.

Hopefully, these last-minute turkey cooking tips will help out of whatever jam you find yourself in this Thanksgiving. And if not, there’s always Chinese food takeout to fall back on.

[Featured Image by Matthew Mead/AP Images]