Yes, you can cook a frozen turkey

I’ve been caught short more than once by a turkey that didn’t defrost fast enough to be fully thawed by the time I was ready to cook it.  I wasn’t aware of it until now, but apparently there’s a method to cook even a deep-frozen turkey without first defrosting it.  San Francisco DJ Rick Stuart tells us how.

I just put the frozen turkey in a 325 oven on a lower rack in a rimmed baking sheet like you would use for cookies. That way hot air can get around it to cook. Don’t use a roasting pan with high sides. Put a cup of water in the baking sheet. That’s pretty much it.

So simple.

About 2 hours in I pulled out the packet inside and everything else. I put some bbq rub inside and outside. I was tempted to put some cut onions and things like that inside the turkey but I think you need to keep it open as much as possible to get the hot oven air inside the bird.

I made sure all of it got to 165 especially down near the bones but not on the bone. The breast will overshoot but that was ok. Have a reliable and calibrated thermometer to check the internal temperatures. Don’t use those silly pop up things.

Total cooking time was about 5 1/2 hours.

There’s more at the link.

I presume that if you put the bird in an oven roasting bag, as I normally do when I roast a turkey, it will retain more moisture than if you just put it in “naked”, with no covering.  I won’t need to cook from frozen this Thanksgiving (I hope!), but I’ll keep this article in mind for future reference.

Mr. Stuart also provides helpful links to other articles on cooking a turkey, including one describing how to slow-cook it overnight at low temperatures.  Very useful.



  1. Turkey is cheap this time of the year, you can get a couple of birds to experiment with.

    Turkey #1, Can you duplicate this frozen turkey cooking experiment?
    Turkey #2, Does the oven bag help?

  2. Also, turn the turkey breast-side down so the juices drain to the breast instead of away from it. And, I thought everyone knew you could roast/bake anything from the frozen state it just takes longer. Yah, I know, I'm old and have been cooking-from-scratch since I was old enough to stand on a chair and 'help'.

  3. We bought a whole bone-in breast to try making turkey prochetta this year instead of a whole bird. Instructions on the package were to cook it frozen. I'm boning it out to begin the recipe so that' not an option.

  4. You can quick thaw a frozen turkey in a few hours simply by immersing it in a sink of cool water with the faucet cracked for a slight trickle to keep a gentle flow over the bird.
    You can cook a small, 10 pounds or less, turkey in a 6 quart oval crock pot. Best done with a thawed bird and the fiddly bits they insist on stuffing into the cavity removed.
    My daughter in law operates an in home day care and she always does a pre Thanksgiving luncheon for the parents of her charges with the kids helping to "harvest" the food to feed their parents. All on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
    For several years now our tradition has been that I attend to dismember the bird for her having somewhat asbestos fingers from my early experience working in a bakery. Did a 23 pound bird this year in a baking bag with apples, onions, and the usual spices. Meat cooked to falling off the bone tender yet still moist in 3.5 hours.

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