Can you Refreeze a Turkey? The Ultimate Guide

can you refreeze a turkey

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You have probably been in a situation where you wanted to refreeze a turkey because either you didn’t have time to cook it or just left it out for too long. If this is the case, you probably wonder whether refreezing the turkey is okay. I’m here to answer this question with others that may arise when dealing with thawed turkey. 

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Can you refreeze a thawed turkey?
  • Does refreezing a turkey affect the taste?
  • How long can thawed turkey stay in the fridge?
  • And more!

Can you refreeze a turkey if it was already defrosted?

If you end up with a thawed turkey but don’t have the time to cook it, you can refreeze it as long as it was defrosted in the fridge. Refreezing a turkey is unsafe if it was thawed with other methods. Also, if you leave the turkey at room temperature for more than 2 hours, refreezing is not an option because it increases the risk of growth of bacteria, which can lead to food poisoning.

Is it safe to refreeze thawed turkey?

raw turkey

As mentioned before, refreezing a thawed turkey is only safe if it was defrosted in the fridge. I suggest cooking or smoking the turkey right away and only refreezing it if it’s absolutely necessary. I know from experience that sometimes you don’t have a choice, so if you refreeze the turkey, how can you safely thaw it? Here are the best methods:

Defrosting in the fridge: This is the best method to thaw the turkey because it ensures even thawing at a safe temperature. This is not the quickest method, but it is the safest. All you need to do is plan ahead; it won’t be an issue then. Also, this is the only method that allows you to refreeze the turkey if you can’t cook it.

The cold water method: This method allows you to defrost your turkey faster; however, if you have a big turkey, it will still take some time. All you need to do is submerge the turkey in cold water and change it after every 30 minutes. Generally, you will need 30 minutes per every pound of turkey. So, if you have a 13-pound turkey, it will take 6.5 hours to thaw. If you can’t defrost it completely, don’t worry, you can still cook it. You will need to cook it for a bit longer.

Microwave: This is the last and the worst method to defrost the turkey. I would only suggest using the microwave if you have no other choice. There are downsides to this method, such as if you have a sizeable bird, it won’t fit in the microwave. Also, you may cook the turkey partially in the microwave. If you do choose this method of thawing your turkey, you must cook it as soon as it is defrosted, and you can’t refreeze it.

Avoid thawing the turkey at room temperature or in hot water. It may be tempting because the process is faster; however, it can help the growth of bacteria which can lead to food poisoning.

Read more >> How long to let a turkey rest?

Can you refreeze a partially thawed turkey?

Refreezing a partially thawed turkey is only possible if it was defrosted in the fridge. This is true for both cooked and raw turkey. Again, refreezing is not an option if you leave the turkey at room temperature for hours. 

Does refreezing the turkey affect the taste?

So let’s say you chose to refreeze your turkey, and now you wonder whether it affects the taste. If you refreeze it quickly and correctly, you won’t be able to tell that much of a difference, but refreezing still impacts the taste and texture.

sliced turkey

So how does refreezing affect the taste? In the refreezing process, the meat will lose some moisture making it dry and less flavorful. Also, if the turkey was improperly thawed before refreezing, bacteria can be present in the meat, affecting the taste and raising questions regarding safety.

How long can a thawed turkey stay in the fridge?

A thawed turkey can stay 1-2 days in the fridge. Refreezing is an option if you can’t cook it during this period, but only if it wasn’t left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. To avoid cross-contamination, make sure to keep it in its original packaging or wrap it tightly in plastic foil. If stored correctly, the turkey may still be good after 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator, but always make sure to check for signs of spoilage. If you notice any discoloration, bad smell, or slimy texture, it is better to discard it for safety reasons.

How long can you freeze a turkey?

Freezing is an excellent option if you want to store your turkey for a longer period. If stored properly, you can keep the turkey in the freezer for as long as a year. The temperature should be at or below 0F, and ensure the turkey is wrapped correctly either in its original packaging, in a freezer bag, plastic foil, or aluminum foil.

As an extra tip for the freezer, label the turkey with the date it was frozen so you know exactly what to expect in terms of freshness. You can apply this technique to all the meats in the freezer to keep them in their best condition.

did you know


Can I Refreeze a Whole Turkey?

  • It doesn’t matter if it’s the whole turkey or just parts of it; if it was thawed in the fridge, you can refreeze it.

Can turkey be frozen twice?

  • Cooked or raw turkey can be frozen twice if it was correctly defrosted in the fridge. Remember that refreezing turkey can significantly impact the taste and texture, especially if you store it for longer.

Can I eat turkey left out overnight?

  • So, leaving the turkey at room temperature for more than two hours becomes unsafe to eat. This means that if you leave the turkey out overnight, eating it is not a good idea, even if it doesn’t look or smell bad.

How long does it take to defrost a 14-pound turkey?

  • The time it takes to defrost a 14-pound turkey depends on the thawing method. According to the USDA, if you choose to thaw in the refrigerator, it will take up to around 24 hours for every 5 pounds. If you decide to defrost it in cold water, you can expect half an hour for every pound, which will take about 7 hours to thaw.


So can you refreeze a turkey? Absolutely, if you follow the correct procedures. Try to cook the turkey instead of refreezing it if possible, but if you don’t have a chance, make sure it is thawed in the fridge before refreezing. Unfortunately, you can’t refreeze if you’ve defrosted the turkey in cold water or in the microwave. By following these guidelines, you can avoid wasting your thawed turkey and prevent any foodborne illness. 


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Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

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