<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://ct.pinterest.com/v3/?tid=2617946472082&pd[em]=&noscript=1" /> Skip to Content

How To Thaw A Turkey

Share all the things you love!

Learning how to thaw a turkey is not just important, it’s also really easy. Check out these methods for thawing a turkey safely so you can enjoy the holidays without a hitch!

This post contains links to products we recommend. If you make a purchase we earn a commission.

Pin showing the title of how to thaw turkey the safe way with images of turkey

Thanksgiving Food Safety How To Thaw A Turkey

Thawing the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner may slip your mind  with all of the preparations going on for the family dinner.  Your busy cooking, cleaning and preparing and oops,  you forget to thaw the turkey.

Oh no, now what are you going to do? If you didn’t plan ahead and thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, there are a few things you can do! It’s important to practice proper food safety to ensure no one gets sick from an improperly defrosted or prepared turkey.

Start by realizing that it will take several days for your turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. You can keep the turkey thawed for a day or two in the fridge prior to cooking.  

Top down view of a turkey now that we know how to thaw a turkey we can cook it

Besides using the refrigerator, there are two other ways to thaw a turkey. You can use the cold water method or the microwave. I personally use the fridge method and then resort to the cold water if I guessed wrong on thawing time or forgot to pull the turkey out of the freezer.

How to Thaw a Turkey Safely In The Fridge Method:

When you remove the turkey from the freezer keep the turkey in its plastic wrapper. Place the turkey on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices.   Allow about 24 hours for ever 5 pounds of turkey following the time table below as a guideline.   Remember that you can keep the turkey in the refrigerator for a day or two extra once its thawed.

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 raw turkey in a baking pan to be prepped for dinner

How to Thaw a Turkey Safely In The Cold Water Method:

Thawing a turkey in cold water requires a bit more action on the cooks part. Again keep the turkey in the wrapper and allow 30 Minutes per pound for the turkey to soak in cold water.

You will need to change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed.  Use the timetable below as a timeline to thaw your turkey.

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 cooked turkey how to thaw a turkey and then it's cooked to perfection

Thawing Turkey Safely In The  Microwave Method:

When choosing to use the microwave to thaw your turkey it’s important to use the manufacturer’s instructions and be sure to cook the turkey as soon as it has thawed. With microwave thawing the meat can begin to cook allowing for bacteria to grow.

Please include attribution to https://www.midlifehealthyliving.com if you are choosing to share this graphic.

How to Thaw a Turkey

Planning a few days ahead of time will save you time and no one will have to eat frozen turkey for Thanksgiving,

You did it! You thawed that turkey safely and you’re ready to cook a fabulous meal.

Looking for other awesome Thanksgiving content?

Be sure you know How to Cook a Turkey Like a Boss! With all these tips under your belt, you are sure to impress the whole family with your mad turkey cooking skills!

Now that you know how to thaw a turkey and cook a turkey, make sure you can stuff it correctly, too. Visit our post on How to Stuff a Turkey and you will be a pro in the kitchen this Thanksgiving.

how-to-stuff-a-turkey

Share all the things you love!

A view of the bowl full of finished apple cinnamon dip with apple dunked in the dip ready to eat.
Previous
Cinnamon Apple Dip
Finished weight watchers pumpkin muffins ready to be enjoyed or shared.
Next
Easy Weight Watchers Pumpkin Muffins

My Thanksgiving Menu – From Scratch

Wednesday 13th of November 2019

[…] How to thaw a turkey […]

Thanksgiving Food Ideas--check out these yummy ideas for your next Thanksgiving meal!

Wednesday 19th of September 2018

[…] Holiday Food Safety: How to Thaw A Turkey from Midlife Healthy Living […]

Judy

Monday 14th of November 2016

Cooking turkey roasts in a large vat for school. Boiled them . Running out of time 4 hours later! Turkey roast$ still bloody in the center's! Can I take them out and put them in the cooler and refill them the next day? Would this be safe to eat! I don't want to make anyone sick.

Molli vandehey

Thursday 19th of November 2015

thank you so much for this. im doing the turkey on my own for the first time this year...

Sherwood

Wednesday 18th of November 2015

I'm glad to see someone's addressing this. It's vital to the whole Thanksgiving turkey thing, yet it seems like most people are just focusing on what to do with the bird once it's thawed. Thank you! :)

This recipe or post is in no way authorized or associated with the Weight Watchers or myWW Program.