How to Thaw Frozen Turkey?

How to Thaw Frozen Turkey

Before you get started with the rest of your Thanksgiving preparations, the very first thing you’ve gotta do is to take care of the main course, the turkey.

Preparing your Thanksgiving turkey takes time as you would need to thaw, stuff and bake. In this article, we will guide you through the process of how to thaw frozen turkey with three different methods. Learn how to thaw frozen turkey in the fridge, with cold water or in a microwave.

Depending on how much preparation time you’ve got, this guide can help you thaw the frozen turkey right on time for Thanksgiving day. The three methods in this guide are the best and safest ways to thaw a frozen turkey, all offering different timelines that you can choose from. If you want to learn how to start prepping your frozen turkey, keep on reading.

Before getting into the three methods of thawing, it is important to know that thawing frozen turkey takes time and a lot of care. It’s no piece of cake. You need to have a gameplan, to successfully and safely prepare your turkey right on time. 

The good news is that you’ve got some options despite being behind schedule. Don’t worry, these methods are full-proof and completely safe. Here’s what you need to know about each method:

How to Thaw Frozen Turkey in the Fridge

Thawing frozen turkey in the fridge is one of the easiest and safest methods for defrosting a turkey. If you’ve got time and have the option to refreeze your frozen turkey for another day, this method is the best method for you.

However, you’re gonna need to plan ahead because this thawing method takes the longest time.

  1. With this method, you don’t need to take the turkey out of its original wrapping. All you need to do is place the breast side up in a container or tray, to prevent the turkey juices from leaking.
  2. Situate the frozen turkey in the fridge and adjust your refrigerator’s temperature at 40 °F or below.

The time it takes to defrost a whole turkey in the fridge depends on the turkey’s size. To get your turkey ready on time refer to the timeline below on how long it will take to thaw in the fridge.

Thawing timelines

  • A 10-pound turkey will take 2 days and 12 hours to thaw
  • A 15-pound turkey will take 3 days plus 18 hours to thaw
  • A 20-pound turkey will take 5 days to thaw
  • A 25-pound turkey will take 6 days plus 6 hours to thaw

Benefits of thawing a frozen turkey in the fridge

  • You don’t need to cook the frozen turkey as soon as it’s thawed, as long as the thawed turkey remains in the fridge it can be kept for one to two more days before cooking.
    • If there’s been a change of plans and you would need to delay your turkey preparations, you can safely refreeze the defrosted turkey within one to two days.

How to Thaw Frozen Turkey in Cold Water

If you don’t have enough time to thaw your frozen turkey in the fridge, the second-best option is thawing the frozen turkey in cold water. However, unlike refrigerator thawing, thawing in cold water will require more attention.

  1. Place the frozen turkey in a leak-proof container or plastic bag.
  2. Submerge the bag of frozen turkey in cold tap water, never use hot or warm water because the high temperature will release harmful bacteria.
  3. To ensure that the turkey’s temperature remains cool you need to change the water every 30 minutes.

The time it takes to thaw a frozen turkey in cold water can be estimated by calculating 30 minutes of defrosting per pound.

Approximate time to defrost

  • A 10-pound turkey takes 5 hours to defrost
  • A 15-pound turkey takes 7 hours to defrost
  • A 20-pound turkey takes 10 hours to defrost
  • A 25-pound turkey takes 12 hours to defrost

Important things to remember, after thawing a frozen turkey in cold water:

  • You need to cook the defrosted turkey as soon as it’s completely thawed
  • Unlike thawing a frozen turkey in the fridge, you can’t refreeze the turkey

How to Thaw Frozen Turkey in the Microwave

If you’re in a time crunch and need to prepare a turkey in a couple of hours, thawing frozen turkey in the microwave is the best option. However, to thaw in the microwave safely, your turkey needs to be small enough to fit in the microwave.

  1. Check your microwave’s manual and adjust the power level used for thawing.
  2. Remove the frozen turkey from its wrapping.
  3. Place the frozen turkey in a microwavable container and start thawing.

Remember, right after thawing the turkey in the microwave, you must immediately prepare it. So, if you need to get your turkey as fast as possible thawing in the microwave is the best option for you.

Additionally, when it comes to thawing the frozen turkey, you should never thaw raw meat on the counter at room temperature or in hot water. If the frozen turkey is thawed under these methods, the outer layer of the turkey will be exposed for too long and will no longer be safe to eat.

With this helpful guide on how to thaw a frozen turkey, you’ll be able to thaw safely and on time. And by taking a look at these thawing methods, you’ll be able to find a thawing method fit for you.