How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey – Three Ways Quickly and Easily

How to thaw a turkey? It is true that defrosting your frozen turkey is one of the most important steps in preparing the perfect dish. While frozen, your turkey will be safe. However, as soon as it starts defrosting, bacteria will start attacking it. The article of KITCHENBAR gives you three safe ways to defrost turkey in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.

Regardless of which method you choose, never defrost turkey at room temperature. If you are running out of time, it is best to try Fresh Whole Turkey.

How to thaw a turkey

How to Thaw a Turkey

You need to defrost the whole frozen turkey before cooking. For best results, follow one of the following defrosting methods:

Refrigerator thawing

To answer the question “how to thaw a turkey?“, we recommend defrosting turkey in the refrigerator which is considered the safest method. With this method, the turkey will defrost at the right, safe temperature. This method takes some time, so if your turkey weighs 16 pounds, you may have to wait four days for it to fully thaw. Once defrosted, your giant bird will be safe for two days. Thus, you can even start defrosting your turkey six days before Thanksgiving.

Defrosting in cold water in the microwave must be done right before you start cooking the turkey. That means you’ll have to wait until Thanksgiving morning before you can defrost your turkey.

Cold water thawing

For this method, you need to start the defrosting process by leaving the turkey in its original packaging and submerging it in a tub full of cold water. You must make sure that the water in the tub is cold to keep the turkey at a safe temperature. After every 30 minutes, empty the water and replace it with fresh cold water.

Cold water thawing

With the cold water thawing method, defrosting time is 30 minutes for each pound. So you will need 8 hours to defrost a 16-pound turkey by this method. Once defrosting is complete, cook it immediately!

Note that you must make sure the turkey is still completely submerged in the water. If it floats, you will need to submerge it. And if your sink is too small, you shouldn’t even think about this method.

Microwave Thawing

Before you begin defrosting turkey with this method, check your microwave’s instruction manual to see if the turkey size will fit in your microwave. In addition, you also need to pay attention to the power level used when defrosting the turkey.

Let’s start by removing all the outer layers. Then place the turkey in a microwave-safe dish. Don’t forget to choose the defrost function based on the weight of the turkey. Typically, a microwave takes 6 minutes to defrost a pound. For best results, rotate turkey several times during defrosting.

During defrosting, if you notice that the turkey is starting to really cook, let it rest for 5 minutes or so before continuing with the defrosting process. You should cover the tips of the wings and thighs with a small piece of foil to shield them from the microwave during defrosting. Once the defrosting process is complete, you should cook it immediately.

Don’t Thaw at Room Temperature

Defrosting frozen turkey on the kitchen counter, dining table, or anywhere else in your home is a big no-no.

Don't thaw at room temperature

There’s no denying that defrosting a turkey at room temperature is unwise. The fact of the matter is that undercooked meat or poultry shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than two hours. If you wait much longer than that, you will be ready to face a case of food poisoning. So you should not think about this.

How to Confirm that Turkey is Completely Defrosted

To make sure your turkey is completely thawed, simply insert one hand into the hollow and check for ice crystals. Next, poke the thick parts of the turkey with a fork and make sure they are no longer hard or icy. If they are, you need more time to defrost your turkey.

No time to thaw?

Imagine if it was only a few hours before your guests arrived at your house and your turkey still hadn’t been thawed, what would you do? Well, I advise you not to rush things by defrosting the turkey in warm water, leaving it on the counter, and blowing it dry with a hair dryer. The consequence of this is putting the turkey in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F, so your risk of food poisoning increases dramatically.

Do not worry! It is perfectly safe to cook frozen or partially frozen turkey. You simply roast to 325°F and increase the cooking time by about 50 percent if your turkey is still completely frozen, or about 25 percent if it is only partially frozen. You can rest assured this way because the heat of the oven helps the turkey out of the danger zone. When the turkey is thawed, it is simultaneously cooked. Don’t forget to season the turkey with salt, pepper, and other spices halfway through cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I cook a frozen turkey?

Yes. If your turkey still has not been fully thawed on Thanksgiving morning, do not worry! You need to know that it is completely safe to cook turkey from the frozen state. This will only take longer to complete the dish.

2. What is the best method to defrost turkey?

We recommend defrosting turkey in the refrigerator. It is considered the safest method. With this method, the turkey will defrost at the right, safe temperature.

3. Can I defrost the turkey at room temperature?

Absolutely not! This is very dangerous and can lead to poisoning.

4. How long does it take to thaw a turkey in the cold water sink?

You should defrost a 4- to 12-pound turkey in cold water for 3 to 6 hours.


Here is all it takes to have great turkey dishes. Whatever method you choose, plan ahead! With a little preparation, you don’t have to deal with a still-frozen turkey on Thanksgiving day.

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