Need a roasted turkey fast?

Are you preparing the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner this year and running out of time? If so, consider roasting it from frozen for a safe, delicious turkey.

A question about roasting turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner was asked at a recent food safety class. The discussion stemmed from a conversation about safe ways for thawing your turkey. Individuals shared that they often forget to take the turkey out of the freezer and place in refrigeration with enough time to thaw before roasting. Other people indicated they don’t have refrigerator space for thawing the turkey for multiple days and some shared they have often decided at the last minute to prepare a turkey for dinner but the bird is frozen. Michigan State University Extension shares that it is safe to roast an unstuffed turkey from frozen. Keep in mind the roasting time will differ significantly from roasting a thawed or partially thawed bird. In order to estimate an approximate cooking time, determine the recommended roasting time for a whole turkey and then then add 50 percent of that time to the original time.

As with roasting any turkey, thawed or not, the roasting times are just an estimate and you must check the turkey during roasting. Roast the turkey to the minimum internal temperature of 165 F when checking temperatures in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Even if your turkey has a pop up thermometer, you still need to use a food thermometer to reach the safe temperature for doneness as described above.

How do you handle the giblet packages that are inside your frozen turkey? Giblet packages and the turkey neck may be found inside the turkey cavity and/or tucked under the flap of skin at the front of the breastbone. When the turkey has adequately defrosted, the packages can be removed carefully with tongs during the roasting process.

  • If the giblets were paper wrapped before being inserted into the turkey cavity at the plant, there is no safety concern if they roast completely inside.
  • If giblets were packed in a plastic bag, and the bag has been melted by the roasting process, do not use the giblets or the turkey because harmful chemicals may have leached into the surrounding meat. If the plastic bag was not altered, the giblets and turkey should be safe to use.

It is also important to remember that you cannot smoke, grill, deep fat fry or microwave a frozen turkey. Roasting the frozen turkey is your only option.

So this year, if for whatever reason, you find yourself with a frozen turkey and need a roasted bird to serve family or friends, consider thawing it partially and roasting or if you are really behind on time, roast it from frozen following the directions above.

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