Knowing what to do with your food before you prepare it can be tricky sometimes. Do you have a turkey you've recently bought but don't know whether it should go into the freezer and for how long? Well, we've done some digging and have the answer for you. Let's discuss.
A turkey will usually last between one and two years if you keep it in the freezer. Although some believe a frozen turkey will last indefinitely, it's better to cook it within its first year if you want it to be high quality.
As we begin, we will discuss all things frozen turkey and tag some helpful related products. Whether you are preparing for the upcoming holiday season or have a frozen turkey currently waiting to be eaten, we're here to help. With that said, let's dive right into this topic!
Should You Freeze A Turkey?
Yes, freezing a turkey is a great way to keep it edible for months (or even years) on end. Generally, a turkey will stay good for a few years in the freezer, although eating it within one year is recommended.
The USDA claims that a frozen turkey will maintain its quality for its first-year post-freeze, although it's safe to keep one in the freezer indefinitely. That said, older frozen turkey tends to lose its flavor, so we recommend eating it sooner than later.
Does Freezing A Turkey Ruin It?
Generally, freezing a turkey won't affect its quality or taste. Like we mentioned, keeping a turkey frozen for more than a year will result in a lower-quality meal, but it won't be unsafe.
Ideally, you want to prepare your turkey six to 12 months after you freeze it to ensure it will taste good, but again, this is up to you.
Is Fresh Turkey Supposed To Be Frozen?
Even if your turkey is fresh, you can undoubtedly freeze it. In general, storing a fresh turkey in the freezer won't negatively affect its taste and is an easy way to extend its shelf life.
Furthermore, we recommend keeping your fresh turkey in a sealed bag/container to avoid freezer burn.
FPSB Turkey Shrink Bags
These storage bags are BPA and BPS-free, prevent freezer burn, come with ties and labels, and come in a few bundle options.
How Long Can I Freeze Fresh Turkey?
For those with a fresh turkey, you can freeze it indefinitely. Although doing this will slightly alter your turkey's taste/quality, a fresh turkey should be fine in your freezer for one to two years.
Like we covered above, you can expect a turkey to keep its flavor for about a year in the freezer and then start to lose its quality after that.
Is A Turkey Good After Being Frozen For A Year?
Yes, a turkey that you froze for a year will still be good to eat. Assuming it doesn't have any noticeable odor or discoloration, a one-year-old frozen turkey will be entirely safe to prepare/consume.
For example, Butterball guarantees that their turkeys will be good to eat after two years in the freezer, so you've got some time.
Is It Safe To Eat A Two-Year-Old Frozen Turkey?
It will be safe to consume as long as your turkey doesn't smell or have any physical abnormalities. Even a two-year-old frozen turkey might keep its quality, but this depends on how well you store it.
Using a sealed bag like the one we tagged earlier is an excellent way to ensure your turkey doesn't lose its flavor or become freezer burned, so we recommend using one. It's also a good idea to store your turkey towards the back of your freezer to keep it as cold as possible.
How Can You Tell If A Frozen Turkey Is Bad?
You can usually tell if a turkey is bad by its physical appearance and smell. An expired turkey will have a sour odor and might start to discolor in certain sections, so avoid eating one that meets these criteria.
A spoiled turkey might also have a slimy texture, so throw it away if yours feels super wet/slippery. Freezer-burned meat can also taste funky, so if your turkey is covered in thick ice, it might also be bad.
Can You Get Food Poisoning From A Frozen Turkey?
It is possible to get food poisoning from eating a frozen turkey. This goes for any meat, so it's essential to cook your turkey using the correct temperatures.
The CDC recommends waiting to eat a turkey until its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure to follow that guideline. They also cover the importance of handwashing and proper thawing for a turkey, which will help prevent foodborne illness.
12" Meat Thermometer for Cooking
This cooking thermometer has a 12-inch stem, doesn't need batteries, can withstand up to 550 degrees, and comes in two size options.
How Long Does It Take For A Frozen Turkey To Thaw Out?
Typically, you can expect a frozen turkey to take between five and ten hours to thaw out if you let it sit in cold water. For refrigerator-thawing, you can expect a turkey to take anywhere from one to three days to be ready for the oven, so this method will take much longer.
Between the two, we recommend letting your turkey sit in cold water the day you want to cook it, but this is not required. Again, this is your choice but go with the cold water method to save time.
How Do You Prepare A Frozen Turkey?
For those wanting to cook their frozen turkey, this shouldn't be too difficult. To start, do the following:
- Take your turkey out of the freezer and place it into a container in your sink.
- Fill the container with cold water and let your turkey unthaw for 5-10 hours.
- Once your turkey thaws out, place it into a shallow roasting pan and season it.
- Set your oven to around 325 degrees and wait for it to heat.
- Once the oven is ready, place your turkey inside and let it cook for 3-4 hours.
- After a few hours, take your turkey's temperature, ensuring it reaches 175 degrees.
- Lastly, remove your turkey from the oven, let it cool, and you're ready to eat!
One thing to keep in mind, every turkey will be different, so make sure to read the instructions on your meat's packaging for cooking times/preparation.
Can You Deep Fry A Frozen Turkey?
We do not recommend deep frying a frozen turkey. Doing this isn't safe and can cause your turkey's oil to boil over and even start a fire.
You want to make sure your turkey is completely thawed out before deep-frying it, which should only take a few hours. This is essential for deep frying any frozen meat, so do not skip this step while cooking.
How Long Do You Deep Fry A Frozen Turkey?
Once your frozen turkey thaws out, it shouldn't take more than 40 to 50 minutes to deep fry. Like cooking in a conventional oven, you also need to ensure your turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees before eating it.
A good general rule for deep frying is to add 3 1/2 minutes per pound for your turkey, so make sure to measure it before cooking.
Is A Frozen Turkey Safe To Eat?
When it comes to safety, eating a frozen turkey is entirely safe. Like we covered, you are okay to prepare and consume turkey that has been frozen, as long as it doesn't smell or feel slimy.
If you keep your turkey at zero degrees or lower, you should be okay to eat it two or three years post-freezing, so you have plenty of time. That said, you want to always inspect frozen meat before preparing it, and always cook it to at least 165 degrees.
To Wrap It Up
Whether you have a turkey in your freezer or just bought one, it's essential to know how long you can freeze it. From what we found, a turkey can last in the freezer indefinitely, although it will start to lose its quality after 12 months.
When it comes to storing a frozen turkey, try to keep it towards the back of your freezer. Prep-wise, it is vital to let your frozen turkey thaw out before you cook it, which usually takes between five and ten hours. Regardless, make sure to check your frozen turkey before preparing it, and don't forget to seal it in a bag while it's in your freezer.
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