How to Cook a Frozen Turkey

How to cook a turkey from Frozen

There is nothing worse than waking up on Thanksgiving morning to discover that you forgot to defrost your turkey.  You panic!!  There is no safe way to thaw a turkey in time to eat it and you can’t figure out what to do.  Well, I am here to help rescue you.  We are going to cook a frozen turkey!  Believe me, my wife and I were skeptical about how this would turn out.  However, it was the moistest turkey that we have ever served and it was very easy to pull off.  In fact, this is how we cook our turkeys every year now.  Unfortunately, it was so easy, the only photo I took was of the frozen turkey. Whoops!

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey 

Just follow these easy steps.

Preheat the oven to 325°F and cook for the specified time based on the weight of your bird.  As you can see from the chart below, the turkey takes a little longer to cook from frozen, but it works, trust me!

Weight in Pounds8 lbs12 lbs14 lbs18 lbs20 lbs24 lbs
Time in hours for a Thawed Turkey2h 45m3h3h 45m4h 15m4h 30m5h
Time in hours for a Frozen Turkey4h 10m4h 15m5h6h6h 45m7h 30m

 

Below are the instructions for a 12-14 lb bird.  If you have a larger bird, please see the above chart.

Line a rimmed cookie sheet or short walled pan with foil and place a cooling rack on it. Remove the plastic covering from the turkey and place it on the rack breast side down. Do not worry about the giblets.  Since the turkey is frozen, you won’t be able to remove them.  Further, turkey companies know that thousands of people forget the giblets and therefore they are designed to be cooked inside of the turkey. We will remove them later, once the turkey has sufficiently thawed.

Cook the turkey for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the giblets from the turkey and flip the turkey breast side up.

By the 3 1/2 hour mark, the turkey should be well on its way to being cooked.  If you wish to stuff the turkey, do so at this point.  Using a large wooden spoon, add the stuffing to the cavity.

At about 4 hours, start checking the temperatures on the thighs and breasts.  Keep checking the temperature of the turkey every 20-30 minutes.

Your most critical question will be:  How will I know when my turkey is done?  The safe temperature for consumption is 165 degrees in the breast.  However, the table below shows when to pull the bird when cooking it from frozen.  Based on this cooking strategy, the thighs cooked faster, but this may not always be the case.  Make sure that you pull the turkey when the thickest part of the breast and the thickest part of the thigh are at least 165 degrees.

ThighsBreast
175-180 degrees165 degrees

 

You cannot cook a turkey from frozen without a good thermometer.  I can’t function without a probe thermometer.  A probe thermometer is a leave-in thermometer that allows you to monitor the turkey without having to open the oven.  The Chef Alarm is simple to use and has a large display.

Chef Alarm Probe Thermometer

chefalarm_orange-01

Along with the probe thermometer, I also highly recommend an instant read thermometer.  The Super-fast Thermapen is a professional instrument that can read temperatures accurately in 1-2 seconds.  While this costs a bit, the $96 is totally worth it and I use it in my every day cooking.

Thermapen MK4

thermapen-mk4_black

If you don’t want to spend much, but still want a reliable instant read thermometer, I recommend the ThermoPop.  This is the newest thermometer from Thermoworks that is just as awesome as the Thermapen, but with a bit of a slower response at 5-6 seconds.  This is way faster than the grocery store thermometers, however, and are way more accurate.  They are only $29.  A steal if you ask me.

My 14lb turkey was done after 4 1/2  hours.  The thighs were 178°F, the breast was at 165°F and the skin was golden brown.

Once your turkey is at temperature, remove the bird from the oven and cover it with foil.  Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.  I like mine to rest for at least 30 minutes.

How to cook a Turkey from Frozen
Author: 
Recipe type: Turkey
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
The perfect way to roast a turkey from frozen. Frozent turkeys are cheaper and the results are by far better.
Ingredients
  • 1 14-16lb turkey
  • 1 cookie sheet
  • 1 cooling rack
  • 1 instant read or probe thermometer
Instructions
  1. Just follow these easy steps.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F and cook for the specified time based on the weight of your bird.
  3. Below are the instructions for a 12-14 lb bird. If you have a larger bird, please see the chart on the website.
  4. Line a rimmed cookie sheet or short walled pan with foil and place a cooling rack on it. Remove the plastic covering from the turkey and place it on the rack breast side down. Do not worry about the giblets. Since the turkey is frozen, you won't be able to remove them. Further, turkey companies know that thousands of people forget the giblets and therefore they are designed to be cooked inside of the turkey. We will remove them later, once the turkey has sufficiently thawed.
  5. Cook the turkey for 2½ hours. Remove the giblets from the turkey and flip the turkey breast side up.
  6. By the 3½ hour mark, the turkey should be well on its way to being cooked. If you wish to stuff the turkey, do so at this point. Using a large wooden spoon, add the stuffing to the cavity.
  7. At about 4 hours, start checking the temperatures on the thighs and breasts. Keep checking the temperature of the turkey every 20-30 minutes.
  8. Your most critical question will be: How will I know when my turkey is done? The safe temperature for consumption is 165 degrees in the breast. Based on this cooking strategy, the thighs cooked faster, but this may not always be the case. Make sure that you pull the turkey when the thickest part of the breast and the thickest part of the thigh are at least 165 degrees.
  9. You cannot cook a turkey from frozen without a good thermometer.
  10. My 14lb turkey was done after 4½ hours. The thighs were 178°F, the breast was at 165°F and the skin was golden brown.
  11. Once your turkey is at temperature, remove the bird from the oven and cover it with foil. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. I like mine to rest for at least 30 minutes.
 

About Author

Rex

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

7 Comments

    • savoryreviews

      I didn't either Chris. Dana and I were really skeptical but it was awesome! Juicy, tender and delicious! Plus, it really took no effort at all. Easiest meal ever!

  1. Cookware Reviews on

    I’ve longing’ so long to find a recipe on how to cook a turkey and I’m glad I find here. Thank you for explaining it so well that made me easy to understand. Thank you so much! I owe it to you !

  2. Defrosting a turkey could really take a while, I noted the steps you had mentioned and will try them for this year’s thanksgiving.

    • Rex

      Tersa,

      I did not use a cooking bag and no parts got overcooked. It actually was one of the most juicy birds that I have ever eaten. The key is to use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.

      Rex

  3. Pingback: Turkey Tuesday Roundup 2016 - SavoryReviews

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