Cooking A Frozen Turkey – What About That Plastic Giblet Bag?

Cooking A Frozen Turkey – What About That Plastic Giblet Bag?

If you are here, you already know you can cook a frozen turkey.

You just plan on cooking for about 50% more time than it takes to cook a thawed turkey of the same size, and keep an eye on the internal temp with an instant read or remote thermometer.

I do it all the time. The turkey comes out great without all of the effort, fuss, and germiness of thawing.

Here’s a messy problem though. A lot of frozen turkey instructions say to take the giblet/gravy bag out of the turkey when it’s half cooked.

Have you ever tried that? Yikes!

The turkey is hot, real hot, as is some of the bag. The back end of the bag is often still frozen to the turkey on the inside. You have to fight with it.

Trying to get that bag out ends up with a big, frustrating mess – and you’re lucky if you don’t burn yourself in the process.

So… what about just leaving the bag in?

Consumer Press contacted a number of major turkey brands and asked about the melting temperature of the bags and whether it’s safe or not to just leave them in.

The good news?

Some of the biggest brands wrap their turkey giblets in paper that’s safe when cooked inside the turkey.

Turkey Brands with Cook Safe Giblet/Gravy Bags

Butterball is one of these.

“Our giblets come in a cook proof bag. If you accidentally leave them in while cooking, the turkey isn’t ruined” according to Butterball’s FAQ.

Cargill turkeys, which include Honeysuckle White, Shadybrook Farms, and Honest Turkey brands, also have their giblets in a cook safe paper bag.

“We advise removing it before roasting the turkey, but if the turkey is accidentally cooked with the bag inside, there is no concern regarding food safety” said a Cargill spokesman.

Turkey Brands Unresponsive to Questions About Their Giblet/Gravy Bags

Target (Good & Gather), Publix, Hormel (Jennie O), Norbest, and Kroger media contacts did not respond to requests for information about the giblet and/or gravy bags included in their turkeys.

We’ve asked multiple times over the years with no response.

Without the help of these companies, figuring out of their giblet/gravy bags are cook safe or not becomes problematic.

Plastic Giblet/Gravy Bags

There are many different types of plastics that could potentially be used for giblet/gravy bags.

You would expect that any responsible food producers would consider the possibility that whatever they put inside a turkey might get cooked along with the turkey.

The general feeling amongst the online cooking forums I read is that it should be safe as long as the turkey is not overcooked (target temperature 170°F for breast meat, 180°F for dark meat).

However, the USDA has the final word on plastic giblet/gravy bags.

They say ” “If giblets were packed in a plastic bag, and the bag has been altered or melted by the cooking process, do not use the giblets or the poultry because harmful chemicals may have leached into the surrounding meat. If the plastic bag was not altered, the giblets and poultry should be safe to use as long as the meat is fully cooked.”

My Turkey Pick This Year (2023)


It was tempting to purchase a Publix turkey (69¢/pound at my local Publix) or a Jennie O turkey (just 49¢/pound at Winn Dixie with rewards membership).

But these brands would not respond to questions about the safety of their giblet bags.

So since regularly put my turkeys in the oven frozen, I spent a bit more and got a Butterball turkey (99¢/pound at Win Dixie with rewards membership).

That way I know I’m good just leaving the bag in.

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