How To Remove Giblets From Frozen Turkey

How To Remove Giblets From Frozen Turkey: Solved

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Shari Mason

When you buy a whole turkey, you will typically find that the giblets, which refer to the edible internal organs such as the heart, liver, and gizzard, are still included.

Typically, giblets are wrapped in a giblet bag or paper and stuffed inside the turkey neck or the larger main cavity. 

Before you cook the turkey, you must remove the giblets inside, or it will affect the overall flavor.

In this post, we’ll share with you the right way on how to remove giblets from frozen turkey. Read on. 

4 Steps to Remove Giblets From Frozen Turkey 

1. Thaw Frozen Turkey

frozen turkey on a glassware

Thaw the frozen bird first. Every 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of a frozen turkey takes about a few hours to 24 hours to thaw. It can be pretty difficult to remove giblets from an overly frozen turkey.

Wait until it has completely defrosted, and use kitchen forks or tongs to remove the giblet package.

You can insert a thermometer into the turkey breast several times to see if the turkey is completely thawed. The temperature should be between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take note – you can use ice water to defrost the frozen bird quickly. Place the wrapped turkey in a plastic bag and soak it in cold water.

Every 30 minutes, change the cold water. This can take approximately 30 minutes per pound (0.45 kg) to defrost. But how long can you keep a fresh turkey in the fridge?

2. Unwrap the Turkey

woman unwrapping turkey

Next, remove the raw turkey from its plastic packaging. You’ll see the legs wrapped in a metal piece or plastic, so remove that, as well.

Turn whole turkeys upside down and slit the wrapping with a knife. To completely remove the wrapping from the turkey, peel it open. Because it came into contact with raw meat, toss the wrapping in the trash.

Tip: We recommend opening the turkey packaging from its back, so you don’t cut into the breast meat if you accidentally slit the skin. Also, if the turkey legs are wrapped with a plastic piece, you can leave it on while roasting.

Read: How To Cook Giblets For Stuffing?

3. Gently Untuck the Neck

man removing the neck of a turkey

After unwrapping the packaged turkey, check the body cavity to untuck the neck. If you defrost it properly, the turkey neck tucked inside will come out naturally. If it isn’t, it will most likely be stuck to the still-frozen giblet bag. 

In any case, remove the neck and giblets. If the giblets aren’t in the body cavity, move on to the neck.

4. Reach for the Giblets

hand removed plastic with giblets inside

To remove the giblets, reach into the body cavity. Usually, giblets are wrapped in paper or plastic and packaged in the turkey’s front cavity.

Also, you can possibly find the giblets stuffed in the front cavity. Check the turkey’s top in between the wings. You can see a hole there, which holds the neck and giblets. Remove the giblets if you see them there.   

Let’s say there are no giblets inside the cavity; the neck can still be there. You can use the turkey neck as spices to make smoked turkey neck and even soup or gravy. 

As for the turkey giblets, you can set them aside for later or toss them. Giblets can be used in stock, gravy, or side dishes.

Some people cook the turkey with the giblets underneath to enrich the gravy and the overall turkey flavor. If you don’t want to do that, you can simply toss it.

What Happens If You Cook Turkey With Giblets?

If the giblets are wrapped in plastic, they must be removed, as they will melt inside. If you don’t remove the giblets and accidentally cook them, this is a big deal, and you are at serious risk of burning them, which can affect the overall turkey flavor. 

The melted plastic inside can also release harmful chemicals [1], which is a pretty big safety issue. You can be at serious risk of food poisoning, organ problems, or any health issues.

On the other hand, it is no big deal if it is packed in paper. It will not release harmful chemicals, unlike plastics. Also, it’s fine if cooked at a safe temperature of 375 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Safety Tip: To lessen your safety concern, make a note so you won’t forget to remove the giblet stuffing before cooking. Stick it on your refrigerator, roasting pan, or oven door. 

Related Posts:

Do All Frozen Turkeys Have Giblets Inside? 

Yes. Most frozen turkeys have giblets inside, including the liver, gizzard, and heart. If you buy frozen, raw turkey, you need to defrost it first to pull them out quickly.

However, there are instances where there’s no giblet bag inside the turkey. In the US, ready-to-cook whole poultry must be packaged with giblets. If the giblets are missing, they must mark the package as “giblets may be missing.”


How long should you thaw a frozen turkey?

You should thaw a frozen turkey for one day, as per USDA [2]. You can still thaw it for several hours, but 24 hours is the recommended time.  

How do you know if giblets are removed?

To know if the giblets are removed, check the neck opening to see if the stuffing is still there. Or, you can check the inside by opening the legs. Pull out the giblets if it still inside. But how do you cook smoked turkey legs in the oven?

In Conclusion 

Ensure the giblets are pulled out before cooking to enjoy your grill or roast turkey. Removing the giblets is easy in four simple steps: defrost, unwrap, untuck, and pull out the giblets. 

If you accidentally cooked the giblets packed in paper, that’s fine. But if you cook it with plastic, it can be a pretty big safety issue. So, make sure not to forget this part when preparing the turkey. 

Just a piece of advice – while you can use the gizzard, neck, and heart to make stock, the liver imparts an unpleasant mineral flavor to the broth. Depending on your taste, you can either store or toss it.  




Shari Mason

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