FREEZING TURKEY & DEFROSTING IT SAFELY

A guide to freezing and thawing your festive bird

How long can you keep a frozen turkey for?

If your Christmas plans change and you are left with a fresh turkey that you'd rather keep than cook, most can be frozen to enjoy at a later date. Waitrose advises freezing them as soon after buying it as possible and within the use-by date, and using it within one month. If in doubt, keep the instructions which will contain all the information you need.  

If you buy a Waitrose frozen turkey or turkey crown, you'll find instructions and dates on the packaging.

How long to defrost a frozen turkey?

Whether it's bronze-feather or free-range, the key to getting the best results from your frozen turkey is all in the defrosting time. 

The size of your turkey will determine how long it needs to be defrosted for. 

Check the pack instructions to be sure, but an approximate thawing guide is 10-12 hours per kilogram in a fridge at 4°C.

Always defrost in a fridge, not at room temperature.

All Waitrose turkeys that have been frozen at home, or bought frozen, must be defrosted before they are cooked.

How to defrost a turkey

The best way to do it

Once removed from the freezer, take your turkey out of the packaging and put it onto a dish of sufficient size to contain the liquid as it thaws, cover and store at the bottom of the fridge until required.

Checking it has thawed

You can tell if your turkey has fully defrosted by checking that there are no ice crystals in the cavity and the meat does not feel frozen when piercing thicker parts with a fork. 

Remember, once your meat is fully defrosted, it cannot be frozen again.

Can you freeze cooked turkey?

Yes. Make sure the meat has cooled before putting it in your freezer.

If you freeze any leftover cooked meat in manageable portions, you can make different dishes with each one. Or, use your turkey carcass to make stock and freeze it, once it has cooled.

It doesn't matter if you cook your turkey from frozen or fresh, you can use your leftovers to make a new meal. This new meal can then be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost it in a fridge (making sure it’s covered), cook until piping hot, and eat within 24 hours of defrosting.

View our leftover turkey recipes