I Cooked A Frozen Turkey (Not Fake News)
2019 update: I have now done this 5 times. Each time I did it the same way. Each time I have had very good results. Oh and FWIW Williams-Sonoma has a read on cooking a frozen turkey (read the comments on how well it works) and another on cooking a turkey overnight at 200 degrees or less.
December 1 2017
I cooked a frozen turkey. No there isn't a punchline coming. The photo is the end result of what was once a rock solid frozen 14 pound Butterball turkey I bought at Safeway that started out simply unwrapped and cooked without thawing.
The turkey was moist and tasted pretty good. The skin was crispy and browned and with the simple gravy it was a great meal with butternut squash risotto, yams, and apple cranberry chutney.
Here is how I did it.
I just put the frozen turkey in a 325 oven on a lower rack in a rimmed baking sheet like you would use for cookies. That way hot air can get around it to cook. Don't use a roasting pan with high sides. Put a cup of water in the baking sheet. That's pretty much it.
About 2 hours in I pulled out the packet inside and everything else. I put some bbq rub inside and outside. I was tempted to put some cut onions and things like that inside the turkey but I think you need to keep it open as much as possible to get the hot oven air inside the bird.
I made sure all of it got to 165 especially down near the bones but not on the bone. The breast will overshoot but that was ok. Have a reliable and calibrated thermometer to check the internal temperatures. Don't use those silly pop up things.
Total cooking time was about 5 1/2 hours. If you use a convection oven maybe a little less but figure about 50 percent longer to cook than normal.
Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes and it is ready to serve.
My Thanksgiving turkey was done sous vide using this recipe. This cook a frozen turkey idea was a shot at something a little crazy with a turkey I got on sale a week later.
I give it an 8 out of 10. It was as good as many turkeys I have had but maybe not as good as the best. It was by far the easiest I have ever made. Yes I would do it again.
One thing that I am sure helped is that the Butterball turkey is prepped for cooking.
"Butterball Frozen Whole Turkeys are all natural, gluten free and raised without hormones on American farms, giving you the highest quality turkey for your holiday meal. "
"Contains up to 8% of a solution of Water, Salt, Spices, and Natural Flavor."
Some think this isn't a good thing but in this case where you are cooking a frozen turkey it helps because you can't do any of this before you put it in the oven.
I made simple gravy with the dripping using this Betty Crocker recipe for Foolproof Turkey Gravy
This is pretty cool because for some reason people (including me) have an interest in ways to cook turkey.
On a more serious and useful note I think this "no prep" way to cook a frozen turkey could help people that cook a lot of food for a lot of people like churches, food banks, and soup kitchens.
Here is the guide I followed to do this at kitchn.com
Someone asked me to post a photo of the pan I used in the oven. They were wondering if it would hold all the drippings. I used a sheet with about a 1/2 inch rim around it. Then I put the turkey on a rack that held it up so the hot oven air could circulate around it.
I added a cup of water to that and it did fine holding all the drippings from the turkey. The water I added was gone by the end.
I think that the water from the frozen turkey turns to steam as it cooks and all of that helps keep things moist.