Can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 1 year?

In this paper, I will answer the question: “Can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 1 year?” and I’ll give you some helpful hints on how to tell if your turkey has gone bad and how to thaw a frozen turkey properly.

Can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 1 year?

Yes, you can safely eat a turkey that has been frozen for 1 year.

According to earlier study, a turkey may be kept in the freezer for up to two years and still be safe to eat. Check to see whether your turkey hasn’t been opened.

If you want to store a fresh turkey for later, put it in the freezer before the “use-by” date on the packaging. The USDA suggests utilizing frozen turkey within the first year of storage for the greatest quality.

Frozen whole raw turkey that has been maintained frozen at 0°F for an extended period of time will keep indefinitely safe if properly stored and the container is not broken.

To prevent the turkey from drying out, it must be kept away from air and moisture.

On the other hand, cooked turkey must be cooled to room temperature before freezing. When you freeze a turkey while it’s still warm, big ice crystals form, causing freezer burn and deteriorating the flavor and texture of the food.

How to tell if your turkey has gone bad?

Smell, texture, and color are the best indicators of whether turkey is still edible.


Fresh raw turkey should have a mild, subtle odor similar to raw chicken. However, if you notice a strong odor coming from your raw turkey, it may have begun to turn.

The strong odor emanating from your rotting raw turkey may resemble sulfur burps or rotten eggs in some situations. This is unsurprising given the high protein content of turkey meat.

Raw turkey meat that has been spoiled may have a gamey odor. Expect an unusual and unpleasant odor if your raw turkey is rotting.


If the skin on your raw turkey meat becomes sticky, throw it out right away. In raw turkey, sliminess is an indicator of spoilage. 

The presence of slime on a piece of turkey indicates that bacterial activity has increased. 

As a result, if you prepare this type of turkey, you may get infected with Salmonella. Ensure that everything that comes into contact with the slimy turkey is washed.


The skin of fresh raw turkey is pale, off-white, light pink, or cream-colored. However, the color of raw turkey’s skin will change as it loses freshness.

The turkey gets spoiled when the color of its skin darkens. If the pale white or light pink skin on your turkey has become gray, for example, you should discard it.

If the color of the turkey skin is slightly darker than when you purchased it, this might be an indicator that your turkey has gone bad.

How to freeze turkey appropriately?

Raw turkey

The easiest approach to freeze raw turkey is to keep it in vacuum-sealed packaging to avoid air and moisture contact. To keep bacteria out, a whole turkey purchased from the shop is normally wrapped in airtight, vacuum-sealed packaging.

Whole turkeys can be frozen in their shop packaging, but make sure it’s not cracked or perforated and that it’s leak-proof. Before freezing, wrap the boxed turkey in an additional layer of cling film for a better protection.

Place turkey chunks, thighs, wings, drumsticks, or mince into resealable freezer bags before freezing. Portion the meat into smaller quantities. This way, you can avoid defrosting the entire batch and only take what you need.

Once the freezer bags are packed, squeeze out any air and seal them. Before freezing, write the date on the label to keep track of how long it has been in the freezer.

Cooked turkey

Before freezing a cooked turkey, allow it to cool to room temperature. If you have turkey leftovers from holiday dinner, follow these simple steps to freeze them appropriately

  • Allow it to cool: Bring the turkey to room temperature before serving. Place it in the refrigerator or slice it while it’s still warm to speed up the cooling process.
  • Remove both the skin and the turkey flesh from the bone. This makes it much easier to use the turkey when it’s needed. The bones can be discarded or frozen separately for subsequent use in stock or soup. After the turkey has been deboned, slice or cut it into the required size.
  • The turkey should be divided into the proportions you’ll need at any given moment. Instead of having to thaw and use the entire batch at once, freezing each portion individually allows you to only take what you need from the freezer. After portioning the turkey, fill a sealed freezer bag with each portion.
  • The turkey with gravy can be frozen to help keep it moist, but only if the gravy is flour-based. Gravies made with cream or dairy will not freeze well.
  • Remove any residual air and carefully shut the bag.
  • Write the date on it with a permanent marker to keep track of how long the bag has been in the freezer.

How to thaw turkey?

A turkey may be kept frozen indefinitely. However, as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that were there prior to freezing will begin to develop. A turkey can be defrosted in three different ways: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in a microwave oven.

Refrigerator thawing

To thaw any form of raw or cooked turkey, take it out of the freezer and place it on a plate in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. The safety of the turkey will be impacted if it is allowed to thaw on the counter at room temperature.

According to the USDA, thawing turkey in the refrigerator is the best defrosting method. Because the turkey will defrost at a constant, safe temperature, this is the safest technique. Allow one day for each 4 – 5 pounds of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. It’ll take four days to thaw a 16-pound turkey.

Thawing in cold water

Leave the turkey in its original wrapper and submerge it in a sink (or container) full of cold water. It is critical that the water is cold so that the turkey can maintain a safe temperature. Every 30 minutes, you should change the water. 

Drain the water and replenish it with cold, fresh water. Allow 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound when using this approach, so a 16-pound turkey will take 8 hours to thaw 

Thawing in the microwave

Before thawing the turkey in the microwave, check your owner’s handbook for the size of turkey that will fit in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound, and the power level to use for thawing a turkey. 

Remove the outer wrapping off the turkey and lay it on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may spill. Use the weight-based defrost function. When thawing a turkey in the microwave, allow 6 minutes per pound as a general rule.

Other FAQs about Turkey that you may be interested in.

Should You Eat Turkey That Was Left Out? Here’s How to Know

Can ground turkey go bad in the fridge?

What can you cook in a turkey fryer?

How to add flavour to bland turkey gravy?


In this essay, I answered the question: “Can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 1 year?” and I provided useful information to freeze appropriately raw and cooked turkey as well as the methods to thaw it safely.

Feel free to contact me for any further request on this subject.


[1] How Long Can You Keep a Frozen Turkey? | Better Homes & Gardens 

[2] How Long Does Frozen Whole Raw Turkey Last? 

[3] Ways to Tell if Turkey Is Bad – Crate and Basket 

[4] Can You Freeze Raw and Cooked Turkey? 

[5] How to Safely Thaw a Turkey | USDA