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How Long Does A Frozen Turkey Last?

I bought two frozen turkeys last Thanksgiving for around six bucks for both, the local HEB was virtually giving them away. It's getting warm here, and the oven will be dormant soon. I've got one left and the question is will my survivor be good next Thanksgiving?

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  1. I would have no problem giving it a go....but why not smoke them outdoors in the near future.....or at least before Thanksgiving..

    1. I would be hesitant to try that. Unless you were going to use the yearling for broth/gravy etc. Maybe that would be ok? I wouldn't want to risk the turkey not being good and it being too late to get another bird.

      Our grocer literally was giving away a free turkey if you spent $75. I just thawed my Mr Tom a couple of weeks ago. Cut into breast, leg/thigh, and wing portions. I marinated in lemon juice, orange juice, rosemary, garlic for about 6 hours. We then threw the pieces on the grill and served it to friends for dinner. It was delicious, and not Thanksgiving-y at all.

      1. I grill them in the summertime, cut them up, grill in pieces.

        1. I wouldn't push it that long. Smoke, bake, or grill it soon!

          1. Commercially frozen turkeys have a freezers life of two years. I have checked the use by dates on several brands in the grocer's. Freezers. I have used frozen Empire. Kosher turkeys after eighteen months in the freezers without problems.

            1. Dude, it's a frozen turkey that you basically got for free.

              The cost to keep that thing frozen in a freezer for a year will probably end up costing you more in utilities than the price of that bird (even at full retail).

              Cook the darn thing and get it over with.

              14 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Does it cost more to run a freezer with food in it than it does an empty? I never, ever thought about this.

                It will taste better if you don't leave it for that long, indeed. But you could certainly save money on next year's feast. Which is more important to you in this case - flavor or cost?

                1. re: eepi

                  Well, if it was empty you wouldn't run it, right?

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    My freezer's attached to my fridge, so I would, actually...

                    1. re: eepi

                      Well, it's not just empty v. turkey-filled freezer, right?

                      Because I'm sure you keep other stuff in your freezer, no?

                      So there's an opportunity cost with keeping a frozen turkey year round.

                      You have one frozen turkey, and that means you have less space for other stuff, like ice cream or stocks or whatever.

                      So, is it really worth your time/expense to keep (what's basically a free) turkey a whole year?

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Excellent point indeed! I was just initially floored by the notion that it might up my electric bill to have a full freezer. LESS SPACE FOR ICE CREAM??? THE HORROR!


                        Actually I have stock, but no ice cream. (And no turkey. If I did, I would be inclined to cook the darn thing & get it over with!)

                        1. re: eepi

                          FWIW, my understanding it's actually more expensive to run an empty freezer than one that's at least partially filled.

                          But back to the OP, for me anyway the cost of keeping a frozen turkey around for a year -- in terms of both space, money and opportunity cost -- far outweighs just cooking the thing, like, yesterday.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            It costs less to keep it in the freezer by keeping it full, but I could use the space.

                            1. re: James Cristinian

                              Yeah, that was really my point. There's an opportunity cost in keeping a whole turkey around for an entire calendar year.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Thanks for the input. I love turkey and would eat it year round but it gets so freakin' hot here and we don't use the oven. I can't believe it's lasted this long as we've been waiting for a nice cold Saturday to cook it, but it's been a warm winter, even by our standards.

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  we love turkey and do eat it year round. In fact I make turkey about every 10 days. In warmer weather, I cut the bird in 1/4s, marinate and cook it in the Weber Gas grill.
                                  We much prefer that to oven roasted whole bird

                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                    Unless you're cooking on a wood stove, ovens these days are VERY well insulated. Roasting a turkey - or anything else for that matter - is not going to raise the temp of your kitchen all that much, if any amount at all.

                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                      Thanks for the replies Bacardi1, but I live in an upstairs apartment with a cheap Hotpoint oven. It is in effect a wood burning stove in our situation, trust me on this, and my prone to overheating wife. She's at that age. We struggle to keep the temps below 77 in our brutal Houston summer, which last 5-6 months, even stovetop cooking heats things up. I too have a Weber, but it is a baby portable, and a turkey won't fit. I love this grill by the way, as there's just two of us and it's perfect. It's roast turkey this weekend, high temp of 78, the a/c will be on.

                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            Yes it's worth it because free range organic turkeys are not always available where I live and the prices tend to be better around the holidays and I've got a plenty of space in my freezer. A couple turkeys isn't going to kill it.

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      Actually it's the opposite it's more expensive to run the freezer when it's not full. So fill it up, just rotate the contents by eating.

                    3. In my experience, they are fine for a year if you want to wait and use it. Each Thanksgiving, and many times Christmas, my husband gets a huge, free turkey from work. We live in a townhouse with no extra freezer space besides the connected fridge/freezer. Due to space restrictions, I usually give it to my parents and they have cooked it the next Thanksgiving if it was still there. As long as its cooked properly, I've never noticed a difference in the flavor. (If we end up with 2 or more, I donate to a local food kitchen).

                      1. Thanks for the responses everyone, we're cooking it Saturday.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: James Cristinian

                          Thanks for asking the question. After reading the replies last night, I took mine out of the freezer to thaw. Don't think I'd have gone a whole year, but at least after this weekend I'll have loads of sandwich turkey. Of course, I'll probably re-freeze a bunch, adding to the never-ending loop.

                          1. re: KrumTx

                            KrumTx, I see you're also in Texas. I don't use my oven in summertime, see above. How about you?

                            1. re: James Cristinian

                              I do, but I know lots of people who try not to use the oven as much in the summer, and I don't blame you for trying to avoid it. I'm north of Dallas, which to me is a completely different summer than Houston. Growing up we'd spend a week each July in Baytown with our grandparents. Good Lord, the humidity! My electric bills are insane in the summer because I like it cool in my house, but when it's 105 outside, no A/C unit is going to get it below 75ish. I'm sure many summer meals/baked goods I make in my oven are garnished with sweat. (Nice, huh?)

                        2. ok - would you proudly announce at serving time Thxgiving 2013 that you got this poor old bird for free LAST YEAR?

                          i know it's getting to the end of turkey soup season - that's what i do - assuming it's about 8 lbs or so - thaw, rinse, put the whole thing in a giant size stock pot and gently cook all day. you'll have meat for some sandwiches or salad - and plenty for turkey soup or turkey pot pie etc.

                          i like the grilling suggestions -

                          1. I wouldn't hold it till next Thanksgiving, we've had no problems keeping them for 6 months though. We always buy an extra or two.