Roasting Frozen Turkey – In this post, I will show you how to roast a turkey while it’s frozen, the tools you will need to keep the cooking process pleasant and safe, and how to make silky, smooth gravy that your family and guests will fall in love with.
The information and tips I’ll share in this post are for 8lbs to 11lbs frozen turkey.
To some, roasting frozen turkey may sound crazy, but in reality, roasting a frozen turkey will result in a moist, juicy, and delicious turkey, reason being, the turkey will take its time to cook in low heat which helps the turkey maintain its juices. Slowly cooked meat is always tender in texture.
What to expect when roasting frozen turkey:
The texture will be moist and juicy if not overcooked.
The skin will be crispy and tasty.
The flavor won’t be different than when roasting a fresh turkey.
The roasting time will be longer since the bird is frozen.
You will not be able to stuff the Turkey.
You will roast the turkey while the giblet bag inside it (don’t worry you’ll be able to remove it before it starts to cook) but make sure that the giblets are not in a plastic bag, you might run the risk of melting the plastic bag.
You won’t be able to rub the turkey with butter while frozen but can brush it with butter after roasting for two hours and a half.
You won’t be able to tuck the wings under the bird.
Of course, you won’t be able to brine the bird but it is not a big deal.
How To Roast Frozen Turkey
You might feel that you are missing a lot of flavors when roasting frozen turkey. You can’t tuck the seasoned butter under and over the turkey skin, or even stuff it but I want you to rest assure that you can add flavor to your turkey and make it delicious!
Now! There is a tool which you have to have. A good meat thermometer. Undercooked bird will make you and your family sick for days and to avoid this horrible experience you need to measure the temperature of your bird while roasting.
Most turkeys come with pop up timer, it is usually located in the thickest part of the breast, I personally do not trust it since it pops after the breast is almost overcooked.
While roasting frozen turkey, often the breast is cooked faster than the thighs, so what happens is that the timer pop up when the breast is almost dry and the thighs might not be completely cooked.
Since you are roasting a frozen bird, and it won’t cook as evenly as when roasting a fresh turkey, you need a reliable thermometer.
When using a thermometer, measure the thickest part of the breast and make sure it reaches the safe and perfect temperature which is 165F (It will keep on cooking and reach 170F while it’s resting.)
After taking the breast’s reading, measure both thighs’ internal temperature which should read 170F or 175F. If the breast is done but the thighs temperature registers a lower number, you have two options:
*Cover the turkey breast with aluminum foil, form the aluminum foil into a tent-like or a V shape and place it over the breast, this way you won’t lose much moisture from the breast and continue cooking the bird.
*Bring out the turkey from the oven and cut the thighs off the turkey. Place the breast on the counter covered with aluminum foil to rest and return the thighs back in the oven to continue cooking.
Keep in mind that it is not important to serve a whole turkey, it’s important to serve a juicy and perfectly cooked turkey!
Preheat the oven to 325F/165C. Unwrap the turkey and place it in a roasting pan with roasting rack. At this point, all you have to do is to place the bird on the shelf above the lowest in the oven and forget about it for 2 ½ hours.
Bring out the bird and now you can remove the bag containing turkey giblets from the cavity. Tilt the bird to bring out any excess juices from the cavity, this will help the turkey cook faster.
Keep the giblets aside because we are going to use it for making the gravy. Brush the turkey with the butter and spice mixture (recipe below) and place it in the oven for another 2 hours.
Before the 2 hours are up it’s time to measure the internal temperature of the breast and both thighs, if it registers (165F) for the breast and 170 for both thighs, your bird is perfectly cooked. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes while loosely covered with aluminum foil.
Roasting frozen turkey is not a difficult task as long as you have the right tools. I have used Cave Tools Rib Roast BBQ Rack. I used it for roasting my turkey but you can use it for roasting chicken, and ribs. The rack was strong and the handles made transferring the turkey from the oven to the counter easy.
Here it is, the recipe for roasting frozen turkey!
Roasting A Frozen Turkey the Right Way
- 1 whole frozen turkey. 8lbs to 11lbs
BUTTER AND SPICE MIX:
- 1 stick butter at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon oregano
FOR THE GRAVY:
- 2 celery sticks chopped
- 2 medium onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves chopped
- 3 tablespoon oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 5 cups water
- Turkey giblets
ROASTING THE TURKEY:
- Preheat oven to 325F/165C.
- Unwrap the turkey and place it in a roasting pan. Roast the bird for 2 ½ hours. Do not open the oven door during that time.
- Mix the butter spice ingredients together well.
- Remove the bird from the oven and place it on the counter. Using a tong, pull out the giblets bag from the turkey’s cavity. Tilt the bird to bring out any excess juices from the cavity.
- Brush the turkey with the butter and spice mixture. (I won’t advise you to stuff the turkey but if you have to stuff it with onion and garlic and not with stuffing.) Return the bird back in the oven and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes.
- Using the thermometer, measure the temperature of the turkey for doneness by sticking the thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and both thighs. If the temperature reads 165F for the breast and 170F for the thighs, take out the turkey. Place it on the counter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes, and then carve the turkey.
- If the temperature in the thighs is still low, cover the turkey breast with aluminum foil by shaping it into a tent or a V shape, this way you won’t lose much moisture from the breast and continue cooking it. Or, bring out the turkey from the oven and cut the thighs off the turkey. Place the breast on the counter covered with aluminum foil to rest and return the thighs back in the oven to continue cooking. Remember to let the thighs rest while covered with aluminum foil for at least 30 minutes after you bring them out of the oven
MAKING THE GRAVY:
- In a pan add the butter and oil, when the butter melts add the garlic, onion, and celery. Sauté the vegetables until the onion is translucent.
- Add the giblets and cook for 4 minutes. Add the flour and stir for three minutes.
- Add the water while stirring, now add all the spices and let the mixture cook until it thickens.
This is pretty amazing! sometimes I forget to thaw out my turkey so I freak out! but know it seems that you have solved this problem! thank you so much for this most awesome post filled with great tips, and the turkey came out looking so amazing
Hi Albert, I know that roasting turkey is a must in festive times, and sometimes one has so little time on hands. I'm glad that my recipe helped 🙂
I have a 19 lb turkey that will have only thawed in the fridge for 2 days. How do I adjust the cooking time/temp?
A completely thawed 19lb turkey that is not stuffed will take up to 5 hours in the oven.