Maybe you picked up a turkey at a post-holiday sale last year, or maybe you volunteered to cook for the holidays and then ended up ordering takeout instead. Whatever the reason, if you’ve got a year-old turkey taking up space in your freezer, we have important news: It’s still good.
Is it safe to use a turkey I’ve had frozen since last Thanksgiving? Yes! A frozen turkey is safe to cook & eat. Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however, use within 1 year for best quality. pic.twitter.com/j1nuGPunph
— USDA Food Safety (@USDAFoodSafety) November 17, 2019
According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, you can freeze a turkey as long as you like, and it’s still safe and healthy to eat. Bacteria won’t grow in a properly cold freezer, so even if that bad boi has been chilling in your basement freezer for a decade, it won’t kill you or anything.
But flavour is a different story. Over time, foods may dry out or become freezer burned (especially if they are not fully sealed—for example, if there are rips in the turkey’s plastic bag). Some chemical reactions can still occur, very slowly, so after several years in a freezer your turkey may not taste quite as good as one that’s only a few months old.
The USDA’s guideline is that a one-year-old frozen turkey will probably taste fine, but if it’s much older than that, you may prefer to buy a new one instead.