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Can You Cook Frozen Ground Turkey Before It Thaws? YES!

So, you are all set to make a delicious poultry-based meal but the issue is you have frozen ground turkey, not chicken. “Can you cook a ground turkey from frozen?”.

Well, this article would give you clear suggestions on how to cook your frozen ground turkey and still achieve great results. Let’s get right to it!

Can You Cook Frozen Ground Turkey?

Ground turkey [1] is an amazing chicken or other meat source substitute in your recipe. It’s an ample protein and low cholesterol source. Its versatility and availability make it useful in the preparation of any meal, be it pasta, meatballs, or even salads.

frozen ground turkey

Can you cook a frozen ground turkey before it thaws? Yes, it is possible. The only thing to remember is that the cooking time might be longer because it’s frozen. So instead of one hour of cooking time, it might take one hour and a half.

How do you make your ground turkey ready for use? Let’s see a few ways to cook frozen ground chicken.

How to Cook Frozen Ground Turkey?

Depending on the result you hope to achieve, cooking ground turkey can be done in different ways. It could be with a stove, oven, or instant pot.

Cooking your frozen ground turkey directly is a pretty fast method, but it might not give great results like the turkey that’s thawed before cooking. Now, let’s see how you can use these methods to cook a frozen turkey.

Method 1: Cooking Frozen Ground Turkey on Stove

thaw frozen ground turkey


  1. Take the turkey out of the freezer and unwrap it.
  2. Get a suitable cooking pot or skillet and place your turkey in it.
  3. Pour water into the pot that is at least past the bottom of the turkey (this would prevent the turkey from burning and provide enough steam to cook the turkey properly).
  4. After that, cover the pot and allow its content to simmer.
  5. Use a fork or spoon to scrape the thawed part of the turkey after some time. Repeat this process every 3-5 minutes as soon as the outer layer of the turkey starts turning brown.
  6. Once the turkey is defrosted, you can add onion, peppers, carrots and any spice of your choice to sauté your turkey and cook it evenly and properly.

This method works great if you want to defrost your turkey and start cooking it right away on your stove.

Method 2: Cook Frozen Ground Turkey in Instant Pot

cook frozen ground turkey

Cooking with an instant pot is a great option if you don’t want to thaw your turkey for a long time.


  1. Before you begin, place a trivet in the bottom of your instant pot.
  2. Unwrap the turkey from the package. If this is difficult, run your turkey under hot water to separate it from the package.
  3. Place your unwrapped turkey inside the pot, then glaze all sides of the turkey with melted butter.
  4. Next, season the turkey surface with as much seasoning as you can.
  5. After that, pour chicken broth directly into the bottom of the instant pot. Not directly on the turkey, which would wash off the seasoning.
  6. Next, place the pot’s lid on it and manually set the timer to cook. Depending on the size of your turkey, it could take 65-100 minutes to cook.
  7. Release the pressure every 20 minutes and move the valve to the vent.
  8. Once it’s cooked, remove your turkey and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then go ahead to slice, serve and enjoy your turkey!. You can decide to prepare a tasty gravy to accompany your delectable turkey.

So, whether you have an oven or not, you can defrost and cook your frozen turkey and still enjoy a delicious meal.

Method 3: Cooking Ground Turkey in Oven

If your meal plan is to make a delectable turkey casserole or turkey meatball, then oven cooking is a great option.

baked turkey burgers

But with oven cooking, you can’t cook directly. First, you have to defrost with any of the methods mentioned earlier, then go ahead to oven cook.

If you cook your frozen turkey directly in the oven without thawing, adding your seasoning and spice would be difficult while it’s baking. In this case, your turkey won’t absorb the seasoning.

So, the best practice is to defrost or thaw thoroughly, then go ahead to season your turkey and bake your turkey in the oven.

How to Quickly Defrost Ground Turkey?

Defrosting your ground turkey can be done in three ways, thawing in the refrigerator, defrosting in cold water, and microwaving.

Although the USDA recommends thawing in the refrigerator [2], you can always choose the best option that suits your circumstance.

Method 1: Thawing in the Refrigerator

defrost ground turkey Refrigerator

It is probably the safest defrosting method because your turkey thaws at a constant temperature, even though it might take a longer time.

With this method, you get to preserve your turkey flavor, and less moisture is present in your meat.


  1. Place your turkey in an unopened wrapper on a tray in your fridge(a temperature of 40F or lower is perfect).
  2. A 4-pound turkey would take at least a day to thaw, so you need to be patient.
  3. After this time gap elapses, keep your turkey wrapped up and use it within 4days after thawing.

We recommend thawing with the refrigerator if you have time to spare, but try other options if you are in a rush.

Method 2: Defrosting in Cold Water

defrost ground turke cold watery

The cold water defrosting method is pretty fast. Ensure you place your frozen turkey in a waterproof bag to prevent your meat from absorbing too much moisture.


  1. Place your turkey in an unopened wrapper and submerge it in cold water.
  2. Change the cold water every 30 minutes if fully submerged. If not, change the sides in water every 30minutes to chill evenly. It might take about 30minutes to defrost 1 pound of turkey.

Method 3: Microwaving Frozen Ground Turkey

defrost ground turkey microwave

Microwaving frozen turkey is the fastest and seamless method. All you have to do is increase the temperature to make the action faster. Ensure to cook immediately after thawing to prevent bacteria growth.


  1. Place your turkey in a suitable container and put it into your microwave.
  2. Use the defrost setting or increase the temperature to about 30 or 50% power level and microwave for about 7-8 minutes. That should do the trick!
  3. Your turkey is ready for use.

Defrosting frozen ground turkey is not so tricky; it depends mainly on the time you have at hand.

Thawing frozen ground turkey by refrigeration is the best option if you can afford a couple of days. If not, try the other methods.

How Long to Defrost a Ground Turkey?

According to the USDA recommended method, it should take about 24 hours to defrost your ground turkey. But, this also depends on the size of your turkey; a large turkey might take extra time, as a couple of days.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to thaw ground turkey?

The fastest method to thaw a frozen ground turkey is using a microwave. And as stated earlier, all you have to do is:

  1. Remove the turkey from the pack it comes in and place it in a suitable microwave vessel.
  2. Adjust the microwave settings and put your turkey in the oven.
  3. Intermittently check your turkey to ensure it defrosts thoroughly.

These steps on defrosting ground turkey with a microwave are straightforward, so you shouldn’t have any problem following them.

What color would frozen ground turkey be if it’s cooked?

There isn’t a specific color, but ensure it is not pink. Cook for as long as possible until it is tender and not raw.

Is it safe to cook a frozen turkey without thawing?

Yes, it is. But for maximum taste, texture and time, it’s best practice to thaw before cooking.

Is there any unsafe thawing or defrosting methods?

Yes. Use of plastic bags, dishwashers, or even leaving them on the counter is unsafe.

Final Words

Now that you know the best practices and methods to defrost and cook your frozen turkey, your turkey should be ready, whether it’s for a family meal or a significant event.

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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