Safe Turkey Thawing

Since Thanksgiving is less than a week away, so I decided to share safe turkey thawing tips that I have learned through the years. I hope ya’ll find these tips helpful. I wish everyone a healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.


Safe Turkey Thawing Tips and Techniques:

Immediately after purchasing your turkey at the grocery store , take the frozen turkey home and store it in the freezer.
Frozen turkeys should not be left on the back porch, in the car trunk, in the basement, or any place else where temperatures cannot be constantly monitored.
Refrigerator Thawing:

This is the safest way to thaw all foods.
When thawing a turkey in the refrigerator:

  • Plan ahead: allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 °F or below.
  • Place the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.

Refrigerator Thawing Times:

Whole turkey:

  4 to 12 pounds ……  1 to 3 days

12 to 16 pounds …… 3 to 4 days

16 to 20 pounds …… 4 to 5 days

20 to 24 pounds …… 5 to 6 days

A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking. Foods thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking but there may be some loss of quality.

Cold Water Thawing:

Allow about 30 minutes per pound.
First be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product.
Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.
Cold Water Thawing Times:

4 to 12 pounds …… 2 to 6 hours

12 to 16 pounds …… 6 to 8 hours

16 to 20 pounds …… 8 to 10 hours

20 to 24 pounds …… 10 to 12 hours

A turkey thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately. After cooking, meat from the turkey can be refrozen.
Microwave Thawing :

I do not use this method but I have had friends that have and they say the turkeys come out just fine.

Follow the microwave oven manufacturer’s instruction when defrosting a turkey. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the defrost times in the microwave. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn’t have been destroyed.
A turkey thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately.