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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *