How To Thaw A Frozen Turkey Safely

Share this!
Share by Email
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+


To thaw a frozen turkey in a safe way, takes time. So you need to plan ahead and not find yourself behind schedule serving that important turkey dinner 😉

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 during the turkey dinner, here is how-to safely thaw a frozen turkey using either of the following two methods:

(Re-posted for this year’s Thanksgiving…)



Refrigerator-Fridge Thawing

Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator. It’s 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.

Be sure that your refrigerator temperature dial is set somewhere between 34 and 40°F. Use a fridge thermometer to check this! If you don’t have one, get one (for safety).

Digital Refrigerator/Freezer Thermometer

Stainless Steel Refrigerator/Freezer Dial Thermometer

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, you don’t have to cook it right away. Turkey that has been thawed in the refrigerator can be kept for several days in the fridge before cooking.



Cold Water Thawing

You can thaw a 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 a large enough container or pot holding 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 often enough to ensure that it stays cold enough to thaw safely. Although the frozen turkey itself will initially keep the water quite cool, check every so often to be sure the water stays cool – especially important when the turkey has been thawing for awhile.

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.

NOTE: If the turkey was frozen in a VERY COLD deep freeze (e.g. -10 in a chest freezer), the times listed might take a little bit longer. Your results will vary, but hopefully this gives you something of an idea…


Related Posts That You Might Like:


  1. Stuben 11/23/2014
  2. WhoSwipedMyCookies? 11/23/2014
  3. Stardust 11/24/2014
    • Fireman Matt 11/22/2015
      • John 11/23/2015
        • RM 11/23/2015
          • Spook89 11/21/2016
  4. Stardust 11/24/2014
    • Fireman Matt 11/22/2015
      • kevinH 11/21/2016
  5. Joe Snuffy 11/25/2014
  6. Anon 11/22/2015
    • Thor 11/22/2015
    • Ken Jorgustin 11/22/2015
  7. NRP 11/22/2015
    • Thor 11/22/2015
  8. CaliRefugee 11/22/2015
    • Tim 11/23/2015
    • JayJay 11/21/2016
  9. JJ 11/22/2015
  10. JJ 11/22/2015
  11. David 11/23/2015
    • Thor 11/23/2015
  12. CaliRefugee 11/24/2015
  13. Pieface 11/21/2016
    • Shepherdess 11/21/2016
      • Pieface 11/21/2016
  14. Krazy karl 11/21/2016
    • Tex N 11/21/2016
    • antique collector 11/21/2016
      • LoveLoons 11/22/2016
  15. TPSnodgrass 11/21/2016
  16. NRP 11/21/2016
    • Shepherdess 11/21/2016
    • Dennis 11/21/2016
      • NRP 11/21/2016
  17. Krazy karl 11/21/2016
  18. Valley Forge 11/21/2016
    • antique collector 11/21/2016
      • antique collector 11/21/2016
  19. randy 11/21/2016
    • randy 11/21/2016
      • randy 11/21/2016
    • NRP 11/21/2016
  20. Tango 11/21/2016
    • randy 11/21/2016
  21. Drifter 11/21/2016
    • MM 11/21/2016
  22. Beach'n 11/21/2016
    • Beach'n 11/21/2016
    • Beach'n 11/21/2016
  23. Teacher 11/21/2016
  24. SportsFan 11/21/2016
    • NRP 11/21/2016
      • TPSnodgrass 11/21/2016
  25. antique collector 11/21/2016
  26. Ananamouse 11/21/2016
    • NRP 11/21/2016
  27. CaliRefugee 11/22/2016
  28. Stardust 11/22/2016
  29. Bill Jenkins Horse 11/22/2016
  30. Anon 11/23/2016
  31. CD in Oklahoma 11/20/2017

Leave a Reply

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!