Question: Our Thanksgiving travel plans this year might have to be cancelled at the last minute — if so, can I cook a frozen turkey without thawing it first?
Answer: Yes — you can roast a frozen turkey in the oven without defrosting it first, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You shouldn't grill, smoke, deep-fry or microwave a frozen turkey.
You’ll need to allow for some extra cooking time, though: it generally takes about 50 percent longer to cook a frozen turkey than the time it takes for thawed turkey. For instance, the typical roasting time for a 15-pound fully thawed unstuffed turkey would be about 3 to 3 ½ hours (assuming an oven temperature of 325° F). The same-sized frozen turkey would take about 4 ½ to 5 hours to cook.
If you’re cooking a frozen turkey, you’ll also need to take care when it comes to any giblet packages that may be tucked inside the turkey. As soon as the turkey has sufficiently defrosted in the oven, remove the giblet package with tongs or forks; cook separately. If the giblets were wrapped in paper — as is most commonly the case — there is no safety concern. But if giblets were packed in a plastic bag, and the bag has begun to melt inside the turkey, do not use the giblets or the turkey because harmful chemicals may have leached into the surrounding meat.
Finally, to determine if your cooked turkey is safe to eat, be sure to use a food thermometer and check the turkey often. Insert a food thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh when it has defrosted enough to easily insert one.
The turkey will be safely cooked when the food thermometer reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165° F in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
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