Can You Refreeze A Thawed (Or Partially Thawed) Turkey?

Can You Refreeze A Thawed Turkey

Dealing with a thawed turkey, either cooked or uncooked, requires proper handling before refreezing. You may not want to lose the tenderness of your turkey meat. This intent might compel you to ask can you refreeze a thawed turkey?

You can refreeze thawed/partially thawed turkey only if it has been thawed in a refrigerator. This condition applies to both raw and cooked turkey. Turkey meat defrosted by other thawing techniques is not suitable for refreezing. Moreover, avoid refreezing turkey left outside the refrigerator for longer than 2 hours.

Like any other meat, turkey meat is prone to spoil quite rapidly. You can overcome this situation by considering a few safety tips.

Can You Refreeze A Partially Thawed Turkey?

It is safe to refreeze a partially thawed turkey, but it is recommended to let the turkey thaw (using only the refrigerator thawing technique) before putting it back in the freezer.

It is because the meat that has thawed in a microwave, over the kitchen counter, or under cold running water might make room for bacteria to start growing. The bacterial formation will lead to the contamination of meat. So you should thaw meat only in a refrigerator if you think you’ll have to refreeze it. Despite a possible compromise in taste and quality, it remains safe to eat.

Can You Refreeze Cooked Turkey?

Can you refreeze a cooked thawed turkey

You can refreeze properly thawed cooked turkey but the effectiveness of the refreezing solely depends upon how you thaw the meat initially. Turkey thawed in the refrigerator can be placed back in the freezer again.

On the other hand, if you defrost your turkey in a microwave, it is no more suitable to refreeze. The reason is that while in the microwave, the meat reaches a very high internal temperature. Thus, it serves as an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Freezing it again will be of no use.

Similarly, other thawing techniques like the cold water method or leaving it on the countertop lead to the same outcome. So, to refreeze a thawed cooked turkey, it is best to defrost it in a refrigerator beforehand.

Can You Refreeze Raw Turkey?

Can you refreeze an uncooked thawed turkey

It is safe to refreeze raw turkey only if you defrost it in a fridge beforehand. If you apply other thawing methods, it’s best to avoid refreezing it as it might not be safe for consumption.

Besides, turkey that you left on the counter for longer than 2 hours or 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F is no longer safe to refreeze. There is a high risk of air contamination, making it no longer safe to refreeze.

Simple Turkey Hack: When you finally plan to cook your thawed turkey, add a little bit of gravy to it. After undergoing thawing, it becomes drier due to the loss of moisture. The addition of liquid will make it tender and soft, the same as new.

How To Safely Refreeze A Thawed Turkey?

how to refreeze turkey

It can be said without a doubt that refreezing your thawed turkey on time proves to be beneficial. However, you can obtain the desired results only if you perform the process accordingly.

A few additional steps will ensure an effective refreezing. They are listed below.

  1. Firstly, take thawed or partially thawed turkey out of the refrigerator and put it in a freezer-safe bag or a Ziploc bag.
  2. The packaging will serve as a barrier against freezer burns and also prevent cross-contamination.
  3. Cooked turkey should be allowed to cool down first before placing it inside the freezer.
  4. It is better to divide the turkey into meal-size servings before letting it refreeze. It will help in thawing just the amount you need in the future.
  5. By applying this step, you can also save a lot of space inside the freezer.
  6. Lastly, Label the bag with the date of freezing and let it store till the desired time.

How Long Can You Keep A Thawed Turkey In The Refrigerator?

As discussed, one of the safest ways to thaw a turkey, be it cooked or uncooked, is to let it sit in the refrigerator. Generally, it takes approximately twenty-four hours for every four to five pounds of the whole turkey to defrost completely in the refrigerator.

Once the turkey appears fully thawed, you can take it out and utilize it for your thanksgiving dinner (or any other special occasion). If necessary, a thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days., after which it must be cooked and served.

How Long Can You Refreeze Turkey?

If properly thawed, you can safely refreeze cooked turkey for up to 4 months. It’s best to slice the turkey before refreezing it. Once you slice it, ensure to wrap it in foil, seal it in a bag and then refreeze the turkey, or else it won’t last that long in the freezer.

However, you must know that as the meat has already undergone freezing and thawing, you may see a deterioration in the overall quality after two to three months, so it would be good to utilize the cooked turkey meat within the initial month or two.

Now moving on to raw turkey, it can remain in the freezer indefinitely until you are ready to defrost it. But, with time, it will lose its former taste and texture no matter how much caution you put into storing it. So, refreeze the uncooked turkey no longer than six to eight months or a year at max for optimum quality.

Can You Refreeze Turkey More Than Once?

While there is no harm in refreezing cooked/uncooked turkey or other meat varieties one time, refreezing them a second time is not recommended.

The reason for this is plain and simple; the continuous refreezing and thawing process significantly alters the meat’s taste, texture, and overall quality. So, when you attempt to do it repeatedly, it will result in the turkey losing all its peak flavor and rich texture, turning it into a bland, chewy mess. That sounds not-so-appetizing to eat!

If you want to enjoy maximum flavor and freshness, utilize the turkey as soon as you get an opportunity, and do not freeze and forget.

How To Safely Thaw a Turkey?

There are a lot of ways that you can use for thawing your turkey. But when you follow the correct method, it will help in freezing it again effectively.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), thawing your turkey in the refrigerator is the safest method because the turkey will thaw at a consistent, safe temperature.

This method takes some time, and to thaw a whole frozen turkey in the refrigerator, you’ll need 24 hours for every 4 pounds (set at 40 degrees F or less).

Turkey Weight Thawing Time
4 LBS 1 Day
8 LBS 2 Days
12 LBS 3 Days
16 LBS 4 Days
20 LBS 5 Days

The following steps are required to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator.

  • Keep the freezer-safe packaging of the turkey before transferring it from the freezer to the fridge.
  • Next, place it on a tray to catch the water and juices and prevent it from dripping on other stored food.
  • You should set the temperature of the refrigerator at (40 degrees F). It can go lower but avoid higher than this scale.
  • You can leave your thawed turkey in the refrigerator for one to two days before you plan to cook it finally.
  • It can take more or less time to thaw, depending upon the weight of the turkey.
  • Use your meat within the expected time frame, or else it will start getting soggy and mushy.
  • If you defrost your turkey with this technique, it can undergo another round of freezing without any complications. However, a constant cycle of defrosting and frosting might affect the overall quality of your meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it bad to thaw and refreeze meat?

Due to continuous freezing and thawing, the quality of the meat gets compromised. As a result, the texture and flavor change significantly, making it not pleasant to eat. Besides, the loss of moisture makes the meat dry, stiff, and hard to chew.

Can you refreeze a thawed turkey breast?

You can refreeze a thawed turkey breast, but only if the thawing process was handled properly before being refrozen. If you are not sure about how your turkey was thawed or what temperatures were reached during all parts of the freezing and thawing process, it is not recommended to refreeze it.

How to tell if a frozen turkey is bad?

The best indicators to determine whether the frozen turkey is bad include smell and texture. So, if your turkey has a sour odor or a slimy texture, it is not safer to eat. Even if the date on the packaging says otherwise, avoid the meat with these visible signs.

Recommended Readings:

How To Refreeze A Chicken After Thawing

Can You Refreeze Pumpkin Pie


Tauseeq is the principal creator of He loves cooking and wants to help others overcome kitchen challenges through practical advice and solutions.

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