2 Safe Ways How To Thaw A Frozen Turkey

November 15, 2013, by Ken Jorgustin


To safely thaw a frozen turkey takes time, so you need to plan ahead so you don’t find yourself behind schedule and mistakenly do something dangerous.

Thanksgiving will soon be upon us and the traditional turkey dinner will be served across much of the U.S.; so for the sake of modern survival, here is how-to thaw a frozen turkey using either of the following two safe methods…


Refrigerator-Fridge Thawing

Thawing your turkey in the refrigerator is the easiest method for defrosting a turkey. However it also takes a fairly long time, so you will need to plan ahead.

Keep the frozen turkey in its original, unopened wrapper. Place it breast side up in a container or tray that will prevent the turkey juices from dripping on other foods in the refrigerator.

Place the frozen turkey in the fridge and be sure your refrigerator temperature dial is set at 40 °F or below. Use a fridge thermometer to check this, which can be found in nearly any kitchen section of a general merchandise store.

You’ll need to allow about 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds of frozen turkey you plan to thaw in the fridge.

Turkey thaw time in the fridge

To thaw a whole frozen turkey,

10 pounds — 2 ½ days
15 pounds — 3 ½ days
20 pounds — 5 days
25 pounds — 6 days

Do you have to cook the frozen turkey as soon as it’s thawed?
No, as long as the turkey was thawed in the refrigerator.

Turkey that has been thawed in the refrigerator can be kept for an additional 1 to 2 days in the fridge before cooking.



Cold Water Thawing

You can defrost your frozen turkey faster in cold water than in the fridge. However, the thawing process will require a lot more attention on your behalf.

Make sure the frozen turkey is in a leak-proof package or plastic bag.

To thaw the turkey, submerge the bag in cold tap water. NEVER use warm or hot water, as that can cause the outer layer to warm up to a temperature where harmful bacteria begins to multiply rapidly.

Change the water every 30 minutes, to ensure that it stays cold enough to thaw safely.

Using this thawing method, you should estimate about 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound of turkey.

Time to thaw a whole turkey in cold water

10 pounds — 5 hours
15 pounds — 7 hours
20 pounds — 10 hours
25 pounds — 12 hours

If you’ve used the cold water method to thaw your turkey, it is recommended that you should cook the turkey as soon as it is completely thawed.

You should not refreeze raw turkey that has been thawed in cold water. Once you’ve cooked the turkey, though, you can then refreeze it, if you wish.