How to Cook Frozen Ground Turkey?

How to Cook Frozen Ground Turkey?


Ground turkey is a great substitute for minced beef and chicken. Turkey meat is known for its good protein content and lower cholesterol.

can you cook frozen ground turkey

Whether you are making meat-stuffed peppers or cooking some saucy pasta, salad or meatballs, ground turkey is a perfect choice. It is easily available in the market at an affordable price.

Ground turkey is available in both, fresh and frozen form. Frozen ground turkey makes it even more convenient to store and use whenever you want.

Can you Cook Frozen Ground Turkey?

If you are cooking in full swing and you find out that you haven’t yet thawed the frozen ground turkey, then you can’t help asking yourself, “can I cook the frozen ground turkey now?” Of course, you can! There are ways to quickly thaw the ground turkey.

can you cook frozen ground turkey

You can also cook the frozen ground turkey meat from the freezer without defrosting, but for that, you will have to increase the cooking time by fifty percent. That means if you usually cook the fresh ground turkey in 30 minutes, then the frozen one will take 60 minutes.

Cooking Frozen Ground Turkey: Step by Step Guide

There are several ways to cook ground turkey. It can be cooked using the stovetop method or in the oven, or in the slow cooker. You can also cook ground turkey in an Instant pot!

Direct cooking without thawing is quick and faster than the other methods, but it does not give as good results after cooking as the one that includes thawed ground turkey.

Here are few simple steps to cook the frozen ground turkey.

  1. The first step is to take the frozen turkey out of the freezer and unwrap it.
  2. Place this frozen ground turkey in a suitable skillet or cooking pan.
  3. Pour water over the turkey in a small amount, just enough to cover its bottom.
  4. The water will keep the meat from burning and will defrost the frozen turkey through its steam.
  5. Now cover this pan and cook the water to a simmer.
  6. Uncover the pan and use a fork or spoon to scrape the thawed outer layer of frozen meat.
  7. Repeat this scraping step every 3-5 minutes as soon as the meat on the out layer starts turning a little brown.
  8. When the entire ground turkey is defrosted, you can add other ingredients like carrots, onions, peppers etc., to cook more.
  9. Sauté this defrosted ground turkey with seasonings and spices of your choice until it is evenly ground and fully cooked.

These steps are best when you want to quickly defrost the frozen ground turkey and cook it right away on the stovetop. There are methods as well that you can try before cooking the frozen ground turkey.

Cooking Frozen Ground Turkey in Oven

If you are planning to enjoy turkey meatballs or a delicious turkey casserole, then oven cooking is the best choice. But for that, you will have to thaw the frozen turkey according to the methods mentioned below.

Cooking frozen ground turkey directly in the oven is not probably a good idea as it will be difficult to add seasonings to the meat during baking or roasting. But you can try this method by adding other ingredients to the turkey once it is cooked halfway through.

Cooking Frozen Ground turkey in a Slow cooker

Slow cooking is the best way to cook delicious tasting meat juice texture. You can add frozen ground turkey directly to the slow cooker along with other ingredients and increase the cooking time by 2-3 hours.

How to Defrost Frozen Ground Turkey

Here are some simple and easy ways to thaw your frozen ground turkey and use it in making meatloaves, delicious turkey burgers or meatballs.

can you cook frozen ground turkey

1.    Thawing Ground Turkey in Fridge:

This is probably the best method to defrost the frozen ground turkey in the fridge. It takes some time, but if you leave the ground turkey unattended, there are lesser chances for spoilage.

For this, you will need to keep the frozen ground turkey in the fridge for 24 hours. Make sure to keep the frozen meat in a colander or a fine sieve placed on a plate or tray. In this way, the liquid released from the ground turkey will drain into the tray.

Refrigeration is a slow defrosting method, but it gives you fresh meat with a juicy texture and good taste for all sorts of cooking

2.    Defrosting Ground Turkey in Cold Water

Alternatively, you can defrost the ground turkey in cold water. This method is comparatively quicker than the fridge method. Add the packaged frozen ground turkey to a bowl filled with cold water.

Leave the meat in the water for 3-4 hours and keep changing the water every 30 minutes. Once the meat is defrosted, immediately use it for cooking.

3.    Thawing Ground Turkey in Microwave

It is the quickest way to thaw the ground turkey. All you will need to do is to place the meat in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it. Select the “defrost” mode if available in your microwave or select the lowest temperature settings.

Set the timer to 10 minutes and check if the meat is thawed. If not, then keep adding 5 minutes duration for defrosting according to the amount of the frozen ground turkey.

4.    Sous vide frozen Ground Turkey for defrosting

Sous vide is another good option to thaw the frozen turkey. It’s like soaking the meat in lukewarm water, with a controllable temperature setting. To defrosting the frozen turkey in sous vide, first prepare the sous vide bath at 32 degrees F, then add the packed or wrapped ground turkey. Cover and leave the meat in this water for at least 120 minutes.

Safety Tips for Thawing Frozen Ground Turkey

  1. Do not defrost the frozen ground turkey in hot water.
  2. Do not leave the thawed ground turkey at room temperature; try to cook it immediately.
  3. Do not leave the frozen ground turkey at room temperature for more than two hours.
  4. Do not leave the thawing the ground turkey in outdoor spaces, or in closed spaces like a car or home basement etc., because the meat can get easily contaminated with bacteria in these places.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you cook a frozen turkey without thawing? Is it safe?
Yes! It is safe to cook frozen ground turkey with thawing, but this meat will take a longer cooking time. It is recommended to thaw before cooking because defrosted meat gives good taste and texture.
How long is defrosted ground turkey good for use?
Defrosted ground turkey should be used within 2-3 hours if kept at room temperature. However, you can keep the defrosted ground turkey in the fridge for a day.
How long does it take to defrost a ground turkey?
If you are thawing the ground turkey at room temperature, then it will take about 30-40 minutes. In the fridge, it will take 12-24 hours in defrosting; the actual time duration depends on the amount of the frozen turkey.
How long to cook the ground turkey?
If you are cooking fresh ground turkey, then it will take 5 minutes of cooking, at least before it starts turning brown. However, if you are cooking frozen ground turkey, then the cooking time will be doubled.
Can you cook frozen ground turkey in a pressure cooker?
Yes! Frozen ground turkey can be cooked in a pressure cooker. Add 5-10 minutes to the cooking time to get good results.


Here’s a catch – an amazingly delicious roasted turkey recipe!

Roasted Turkey

Yield: 12 servings

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 3½ hours


For Turkey Marinade

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated finely

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 green chili, chopped finely

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, grated finely

5-ounce plain Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons tomato puree

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1½ tablespoons garam masala

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

For Turkey

1 (9-pound) whole turkey, giblets and neck removed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 garlic cloves, halved

1 lime, halved

½ of lemon


  1. In a bowl, mix together all marinade ingredients.
  2. With a fork, pierce the turkey completely.
  3. In a large baking dish, place the turkey.
  4. Rub the turkey with marinade mixture evenly and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Remove from refrigerator and keep aside for about 30 minutes before cooking.
  6. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees F.
  7. Sprinkle turkey with salt and black pepper evenly and stuff the cavity with garlic, lime and lemon.
  8. Arrange the turkey in a large roasting pan and roast for about 30 minutes.
  9. Now, reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F.
  10. Roast for about 3 hours. (if skin becomes brown during roasting, then cover with foil paper).

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