How Long To Cook A Frozen Turkey (And Why)?

How Long To Cook A Frozen Turkey (And Why)?

Exact Time: 5 Hours

The signature dish of Thanksgiving, Turkey is all about families and shared values. Though most popular in the United States and Canada on Thanksgiving feast, the bird meat is yet popular on the European plate on occasions of Christmas dinner feasts.

Although now a globally popular thanksgiving and Christmas feast, Turkey’s journey as a dish started from North America. It was primarily eaten by indigenous people of Latin America, particularly Mexico and the southern strip of the United States of America. When North America was colonized by European forces, the Spanish people took Aztec turkeys back to Europe.

Turkey dishes were not always regarded as main course dishes on such occasions. But, pork ribs occupied a commonplace in the hearts of common folklore on the occasions of Thanksgiving or Christmas. It slowly started to occupy a major place in the plates of English people in the early 17th century. Once approved by English, it soon became the signature dish of such occasions.

How Long To Cook A Frozen Turkey

How Long To Cook A Frozen Turkey?

Frozen turkeys require pretty much time, other than just the cooking time. To be clear frozen turkeys require more preparation time than thawed turkeys. You need to prepare the dish many days before you plan to serve the bird to your guests.

Also, the time required to cook a thawed turkey is comparatively less than what is needed to cook a frozen turkey. A thawed turkey requires about a quarter-hour for its preparation for each pound of meat. On the contrary, a frozen turkey needs about fifty percent more time. Mathematically speaking, the time required to cook one pound of turkey frozen meat is 22 1/2 minutes.

If your turkey weighs between 8-12 lbs, it would require anywhere between 4 to 4 1/2 hours for the turkey to cook. If it weighs between 12-14 lbs, the turkey would need about 4 1/2 or nearly 5 1/2 hours to cook properly. On the other hand, if your turkey weighs between 14-18 lbs and 18-20 lbs, the turkey would consume 6 to 6 1/2 hours and 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 hours to be ready respectively. But, if your turkey is very large and weighs between 20-24 lbs, it would take an enormous eight hours to cook.

To summarise, it can be put forward as:

Weight Of TurkeyTime Required To Cook
8-12 lbs turkey4 to 4 1/2 hours
12-14 lbs turkey4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours
14-18 lbs turkey6 to 6 1/2 hours
18-20 lbs turkey6 1/2 to 7 1/2 hours
20-24 lbs turkey7 1/4 to 7 3/4 hours

Why Does It Take So Long To Cook Frozen Turkey?

The basic reason why frozen turkey takes so much time to be cooked is the humongous size of the bird. An average turkey purchased from the market weighs between 12-14 lbs. Thus, it might take up 4 to 5 hours of your precious time to roast the bird suitably.

The turkey needs to be bought at least a week before the Thanksgiving or Christmas feast. The turkey now has to be put in the fridge for at least 4 days to froze it properly. Also, it is required that the turkey has to be brined before the main day. All these steps in getting ready for a meal require many days of preparation preceding the feast day.

Another reason behind the mammoth time spent on the frozen turkey is the procedure itself. In order to be cooked properly, it has to be ensured that the heat reaches the bird’s chest. When you put a frozen turkey in the oven, first its wings and outer body get cooked and then the interior ones. The inner areas require more heat to be cooked and so, more time.


Cooking a frozen turkey would certainly take at least 5 hours. The procedure of cooking the frozen turkey requires it to be thawed properly. It has to be made safe to eat and only continued heating in the oven can do it. On the other hand, if you have already defrosted the bird in your freezer, you might be able to save up a lot of your time.

Frozen turkey is a great dish to savour with friends and family on Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. But as great as it may taste, it is similarly laborious. It requires a lot of patience but is worth the wait!


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