Easily Cook a Frozen Turkey - Super Simple Recipe, Delicious Turkey! (2024)

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by Victoria 22 Comments

Learning how to cook a frozen turkey is a must have skill for any chef. You never know when you're going to forget (or run out of time) to thaw the turkey before dinner. With this easy recipe, you will be able to cook a frozen turkey to perfection in no time at all!

Easily Cook a Frozen Turkey - Super Simple Recipe, Delicious Turkey! (1)

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I'll be honest, since I discovered how to cook a frozen chicken, I don't even bother thawing my fowl before cooking it! That goes for the big turkey too!

Since I'm the one who normally makes Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, this is a great recipe for me as it allows me to save counter and fridge space for other holiday recipes, instead of requiring me to thaw the turkey for days in advance.

With this recipe for how to cook a frozen turkey, I can simply take the turkey out of the freezer and have it straight into the oven within just a few minutes!

Even More Holiday Recipes:

Classic Southern Mashed Potatoes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Marshmallows

Honey Glazed Ham

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey

No matter what the reason, whether intentional or not, if you have a frozen turkey and a fast approaching dinner, then you need to get the turkey cooked quickly!

Not to worry! It's super easy to cook a frozen turkey without thawing it first! There are no tricks, it's just a straightforward recipe that results in a delicious oven roasted turkey!

Step One:

Remove all packaging from the outside of the turkey and place breast-side up onto a roasting pan.

Step Two:

Pre-heat the oven to 325° and move the middle rack down to the bottom one-third of the oven.

Step Three:

Roast turkey for 1-2 hours* (depending on the size), remove from oven and remove giblets from turkey. At this time also remove any plastic holding the legs together. You can tie them with twine at this point if desired.

*Remove once turkey is lightly golden brown.

Step Four:

Mix 1/4 cup of butter with seasoning of your choice. We use salt, pepper, garlic, and parsley.

Brush the butter mix onto the turkey as thoroughly as you can. Put it back in the oven.

Step Five:

Bake turkey for another 2 hours, or until dark golden brown. Check multiple points with a meat thermometer to ensure turkey is 165° through the thickest portions.

If any part is not fully cooked, continue baking until 165° is reached throughout.

NOTE: I have found that when cooking a frozen turkey, the total cook time is about 25% longer than normal. Keep this in mind when planning your dinner.

General Cook Times for A Frozen Turkey (total):

  • 8- to 12-pound turkey: 4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • 12- to 14-pound turkey: 4 1/2 to 5 3/4 hours
  • 14- to 18-pound turkey: 5 3/4 to 6 1/4 hours
  • 18- to 20-pound turkey: 6 1/4 to 6 3/4 hours
  • 20- to 24-pound turkey: 6 3/4 to 7 1/2 hours

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey FAQ

Is is safe to cook a frozen turkey without thawing it first?
Absolutely! Since you will be roasting this very quickly, the bacteria growth range temperature will be exceeded quickly and before any bacteria can set in.

Do you need to use a thermometer or can you just go based on timing?
Since each turkey and oven is different, it really is crucial to use a thermometer while oven roasting a turkey; especially from frozen.

You need to be able to check multiple points of the turkey quickly to make sure that every part of the bird is at least 165°F before calling it ready.

Can I brine this turkey before cooking?
Brining and dry rubs cannot be done on a frozen turkey. You can however do a seasoned butter rub that is absolutely delicious!

However, if you have a traditional flavor that you are seeking to achieve, then you will likely want to plan on thawing your turkey before roasting.

Can I stuff the turkey if it's frozen?
For this type of oven roasted turkey, the cook time would be too long for the stuffing to really survive well. Also, the stuffing will actually slow down the turkey cooking process, causing the turkey to dry out before it fully reaches the safe temperature.

I recommend baking the stuffing separately and serving it on the side.

Does a frozen turkey actually taste good after it's cooked?
Yes! It's really delicious and the skin is nice and crispy, just like cooking it if it was thawed first.

Downsides to cooking a frozen turkey?
There are only 2 downsides that I can see:

1. If you normally use a rub or brine, you won't be able to with this method.

2. You can't tuck the wings under for that quintessential "gorgeous" turkey photo. However, that's not a huge deal-breaker for me!

Easily Cook a Frozen Turkey - Super Simple Recipe, Delicious Turkey! (2)

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey

No matter what the reason, whether intentional or not, if you have a frozen turkey and a fast approaching dinner, then you need to get the turkey cooked quickly!

4.58 from 26 votes

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Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Keyword: How to Cook a Frozen Turkey, Oven Roasted Turkey

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Frozen Turkey
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • seasonings of choice

Instructions

  • Remove all packaging from the outside of the turkey and place breast-side up onto a roasting pan.

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325° and move the middle rack down to the bottom one-third of the oven.

  • Roast turkey for 1-2 hours*(depending on the size), remove from oven and remove giblets from turkey. At this time also remove any plastic holding the legs together. You can tie them with twine at this point if desired.

    *Remove once turkey is lightly golden brown.

  • Mix 1/4 cup of butter with seasoning of your choice. We use salt, pepper, garlic, and parsley.

    Brush the butter mix onto the turkey as thoroughly as you can. Put it back in the oven.

  • Bake turkey for another 2 hours, or until dark golden brown. Check multiple points with a meat thermometer to ensure turkey is 165° through the thickest portions.

  • If any part is not fully cooked, continue baking until 165° is reached throughout.

Notes

NOTE: I have found that when cooking a frozen turkey, the total cook time is about 25% longer than normal. Keep this in mind when planning your dinner.

General Cook Times for A Frozen Turkey (total):

  • 8- to 12-pound turkey: 4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • 12- to 14-pound turkey: 4 1/2 to 5 3/4 hours
  • 14- to 18-pound turkey: 5 3/4 to 6 1/4 hours
  • 18- to 20-pound turkey: 6 1/4 to 6 3/4 hours
  • 20- to 24-pound turkey: 6 3/4 to 7 1/2 hours

Tried this recipe?Mention @AModHomestead or tag ##amodernhomestead!

More Holiday Recipe to Enjoy:

The Best Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe with Canning Instructions

Homemade Marshmallows

Einkorn Flour Pie Crust Recipe

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Donna LaDuke says

    Would you have any water in the bottom of the pan?

    Reply

    • Victoria says

      Hi Donna, I do not find this necessary, no. However, if you want to do that it would be fine, as long as the turkey is not in the water!

      Reply

  2. Carol Clevenger says

    Great! I have done this several times and it is the only way that I cook a turkey now!!

    Reply

  3. Russlyn says

    you mentioned to have the oven temperature at high325 . I didn’t think that that was a high temperature. I usually start at 375-400 for the first 2 hrs and then 350.

    Reply

    • Victoria says

      Hi Russlyn! If that works for you, then stick with it for sure! I like to do the 325 do be able to pull the giblets out early, and to keep the meat from getting too dry :-)

      Reply

  4. Evelyn says

    Thanks this really saved time today

    Reply

    • Victoria says

      Glad to hear it!

      Reply

  5. Tammy says

    Do you cover turkey with foil while cooking?

    Reply

    • Victoria says

      Hi Tammy! I do not, unless the skin starts to get darker than I want. The reason being that when you cover it the skin tends to get really soft, instead of that crispy texture that most people like. So it’s up to you!

      Reply

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Easily Cook a Frozen Turkey - Super Simple Recipe, Delicious Turkey! (2024)

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