How To Cook A Frozen Turkey – SOS For Thanksgiving Dinner

It's Thanksgiving morning and your turkey is either frozen solid or still semi-frozen, so can you cook a frozen turkey?

Women Taking Turkeys Out of the Oven Circa 1950s
Sherman / Three Lions - Evan / Three Lions / Getty Images

It's Thanksgiving morning and your turkey is either frozen solid or still semi-frozen, so can you cook a frozen turkey?

If you are looking at a frozen turkey this Thanksgiving morning don’t worry, you are not alone. Even the most seasoned cooks forget to defrost their turkey or find their turkey hasn’t thawed completely through.

As Fox & Friends reminded their viewers on Thanksgiving morning – do not fry a frozen turkey. But seasoned cooks say you can roast that bird in the oven safely.

Believe it or not, you might find that your turkey turns out better than ever because you cooked it frozen. Some cooks believe turkeys are juicier when cooked from a frozen state.

According to a public service announcement from ABC News, if your turkey is frozen on Thanksgiving morning you can still safely cook it in time for your dinner.

Foodsafety.gov shares that it’s perfectly safe to cook a frozen turkey. Despite any old wives tales that have been passed down in your family, your turkey will not only be safe to eat but delicious as well.

If your turkey is coming right out of the freezer on Thanksgiving morning, it is frozen solid. This bird is going to take at least 50-percent more time to cook than the originally recommended time. Cooking the turkey at 350 degrees is still recommended.

Family at Thanksgiving dinner Circa 1955
A Thanksgiving turkey dinner circa 1955. Evans/Three Lions / Getty Images

So if your thawed bird would take four hours to cook, you are looking at about six hours for a frozen turkey to cook. Add the butter and the spices on the outside of the turkey when it is halfway done.

It is recommended that you not stuff a frozen turkey. You can still prepare your favorite stuffing, but it will need to go into a baking dish in the oven for about an hour or two before the turkey comes out of the oven.

You won’t be able to remove the neck and the giblets frozen inside the bird until after the turkey has cooked for a while. According to Penn Live, the giblets are wrapped in a food-safe bag. So the turkey is safe with the bag inside while it is cooking.

Once the turkey is semi-cooked and the bag is no longer frozen to the inside of the bird, remove it from the bird. This includes the turkey neck as well.

If your turkey is semi-frozen before you put it in the oven then you will still need extra time to cook the bird. It won’t take as much time as you would need with a bird that’s frozen solid. A meat thermometer is needed to tell you when your turkey is ready whether it was thawed, semi-thawed, or frozen solid going into the oven.

The most important part of cooking your turkey is to do it safely. Your turkey is done when the thermometer reads 165 degrees after you’ve checked it in three different places.

Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing. These are the three recommended places for a safe temperature reading.

Inserting your thermometer in these three places on your turkey will give you an accurate reading on the temperature of the entire bird.

Cover the turkey with aluminum foil once the skin turns golden brown in the oven. This will keep the bird’s nice color until it is thoroughly cooked. When your turkey reads 165 degrees, it is ready.