Tips for Cooking a Frozen Turkey
Luckily, the turkey-cooking gurus have determined tips for cooking a frozen bird. It is safe to roast a turkey from the frozen state. However, it will take longer than a fresh or thawed bird, and forget about smoking, grilling, deep-fat-frying or microwaving a frozen turkey. Here are some cooking tips for getting your bird from the freezer to the table:
Start your turkey approximately 5½ hours before you plan to serve it. Set the oven temperature at 325 degrees F.
- Remove the plastic wrapping and set on a rack inside your roasting pan so heat can circulate around the entire bird. It's best to use a shallow pan rather than one with high sides so heat can be distributed evenly.
- Don't worry about the bag with the gizzards in the cavity just yet, that can come out once the bird is partially cooked.
- Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature. The legs and thighs will come up to heat first, the breast will be the slowest to cook.
- After about 3½ hours, you should be able to remove the bag of gizzards and neck. Try wearing silicone gloves to protect your hands from the heat.
- At 4½ to 5 hours, a 12- to 13-pound turkey is nicely cooked. Check the temperature. The leg and thigh should be tender and at a temperature of 175 to 185 degrees F, while the breast will be moist and at a temperature of 160 to 170 degrees F. The pop-up timer (if there is one) should have popped.
While unconventional, roasting a frozen turkey gives the benefits of minimizing cross-contamination (no germy raw turkey juice in your fridge as the bird thaws), and because the breast cooks slowly, it is more likely to stay moist and tender.
For additional information on cooking turkey, read Turkey: Alternative Routes to the Table on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's site.