What If Your Turkey Isn’t Fully Thawed? Don’t Panic! Here’s How to Save Your Thanksgiving Feast.

Don’t panic if, on Thanksgiving Day, you’re finally feeling like cooking and you cheerfully reach for the turkey in the refrigerator only to find it’s still a cold, solid mass. Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, a nutrition expert, food safety consultant, and author of “Up Your Veggies: Flexitarian Recipes for the Whole Family,” has provided us with some tips on how to safely defrost your turkey, as well as how to know when it is completely defrosted and what to do if you simply don’t have time to thaw it. “.

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Thanksgiving is a time for family friends, and of course, delicious food. But what happens when you forget to thaw the turkey? Don’t worry there’s still hope! This guide will provide you with all the information you need to safely cook a frozen turkey and ensure a delicious and memorable Thanksgiving meal.

Don’t Despair: Cooking a Frozen Turkey is Safe and Possible

Many people believe that cooking a frozen turkey is unsafe or will result in a dry, unevenly cooked bird. However, this is not the case. According to food safety experts, cooking a frozen turkey is perfectly safe as long as certain guidelines are followed. In fact, cooking a frozen turkey can even have some advantages, such as reducing the risk of foodborne illness.

Key Considerations for Cooking a Frozen Turkey

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when cooking a frozen turkey:

  • Cooking time: A frozen turkey will take significantly longer to cook than a thawed turkey. Plan on adding an additional 50% to the cooking time for a frozen turkey.
  • Internal temperature: The most important factor in ensuring a safe and properly cooked turkey is reaching the correct internal temperature. The USDA recommends cooking the turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
  • Food safety: Always handle raw turkey with care and follow proper food safety practices to prevent cross-contamination. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the turkey, and clean and sanitize all surfaces that come into contact with the raw bird.
  • Thawing methods: If you do have time to thaw the turkey, there are several safe methods to choose from, including thawing in the refrigerator, cold water bath, or microwave.

Step-by-Step Guide for Cooking a Frozen Turkey

Follow these steps to safely and effectively cook your frozen turkey:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C).
  2. Prepare a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil and a rack.
  3. Unwrap the frozen turkey and place it on the rack in the baking pan.
  4. Place the turkey in the oven and bake.
  5. After 3 hours, check if you can remove the giblets package.
  6. After 4 to 5 hours, measure the internal temperature of the turkey in the deepest part of the breast. The minimum temperature should be 165°F (74°C) before removing the turkey from the oven. If the temperature is not yet reached, continue cooking the turkey.
  7. Once the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the breast, remove the turkey from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.
  8. Enjoy your delicious Thanksgiving turkey!

Additional Tips for Cooking a Frozen Turkey

  • Use a food thermometer to accurately measure the internal temperature of the turkey.
  • Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and thigh, avoiding the bone.
  • Do not stuff the turkey before cooking. Stuffing can slow down the cooking process and increase the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

Resources for Additional Information

Cooking a frozen turkey may seem daunting, but with proper planning and execution, you can ensure a safe and delicious Thanksgiving meal. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently cook your frozen turkey and enjoy a stress-free holiday celebration.

How to Defrost a Turkey in the Fridge

The best option is to thaw your bird in the refrigerator, but this will take a few days. According to Amidor, place the unopened turkey breast-side up on a tray and place it in a refrigerator that is 40 degrees or less. To fully defrost, four pounds of turkey will require about a day in the refrigerator. (For instance, it will take roughly four days for a 16-pound turkey to thaw.) Additionally, you can use Butterball’s helpful calculator to do the math for you. Before cooking, the turkey can remain refrigerated for up to two more days after it has completely defrosted, according to Amidor.

How to Defrost a Turkey Fast

Your best option if you missed the fridge-thawing window is to thaw your turkey in cold water. You should immerse the turkey in a sink or large container filled with cold water, breast-side down and with its original wrapping still on. “To reduce the growth of any hazardous bacteria, you want the water to be cold so the turkey stays at a safe temperature,” Amidor explains. Every thirty minutes, you should replace the water with brand-new water.

One pound must defrost in thirty minutes using this method, according to Amidor. For instance, it will take eight hours for a 16-pound turkey to defrost. (If the math doesn’t add up, just enter the turkey’s weight into Butterball’s turkey defrost time calculator.) “Cook the turkey right away after it has thawed,” advises Amidor.

What happens if turkey isn’t fully thawed?


What to do if my turkey is not completely thawed?

If your turkey is still frozen solid: Try a safe quick-thawing method. Cold water: Keep the bird in its airtight packaging or a leak-proof bag, submerge it in cold water, and change the water every 30 minutes. Microwave: Use your manufacturer guidelines to thaw for about 6 minutes per pound.

What if my turkey is not 100 defrosted?

Well, all is not lost, as a frozen or partially thawed turkey can still be cooked and eaten but ONLY if you extend the recommended cooking time per pound by as much as 50 percent.

Can a thawed Turkey be refrozen?

Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. A turkey thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately. After cooking, meat from the turkey can be refrozen.

How do you Thaw a Turkey?

You can also safely thaw your turkey with a cool water bath: Submerge the still-wrapped turkey in cold water (a sink or cooler work best) and change out the water every 30 minutes. This method will still take several hours and is best for thawing and roasting a turkey the same day.

How long can a thawed Turkey stay in the fridge?

A completely thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for one or two days before cooking. To thaw in cold water, submerge the bird in its original wrapper in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after thawing.

Can You Thaw a Turkey the same day?

This method will still take several hours and is best for thawing and roasting a turkey the same day. If you’ve given your turkey enough time to thaw, but you want to be doubly sure it is thawed through, the best way to do this is by touch and feel.

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