How Long To Thaw A Frozen Turkey?

by Hong Diep
How Long To Thaw A Frozen Turkey 1

How Long To Thaw A Frozen Turkey?

If the Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching or you just want to gather all the family around the table, then you’ve probably begun preparing for a big feast. One of the most common items that people prepare for a Thanksgiving dinner is the whole turkey. And while you can check some side dishes, we can also give you some pointers on how long to thaw a frozen turkey.

There’re several methods to thaw this Thanksgiving bird. To thaw a turkey, you need to place it in the fridge, cold water, or a microwave. According to its weight, defrosting time may vary. Below you will find detailed instructions about each method, as well as a turkey thawing chart.

How To Thaw A Turkey In The Fridge

If you plan to defrost your turkey in the fridge, start three days before Thanksgiving is scheduled to take place. Begin by removing all of the packaging and wrapping it from your frozen turkey completely (don’t put it in water first).

Then place the turkey in a large container or zip-lock bag, and make sure that it is completely sealed. Finally, place it in the warmest part of your refrigerator (usually the bottom shelf), and let it defrost for 24 hours per every 5 pounds.

How To Thaw A Turkey In A Cold Water

Unless you own an enormous sink with plenty of room for a frozen turkey to float around, don’t use this method. Find a plastic bag or tightly sealed container (like you would use for a turkey salad), and put your frozen bird inside before putting it into cold water. Under no circumstances should you submerge your turkey underwater.

How To Thaw A Turkey In The Microwave

Place your turkey inside of a large plastic bag (without water), and place it in the microwave. I think it will be rather hard to do that because of its size, but a medium-sized turkey can fit the microwave over. 

Turn the microwave on, and allow it to defrost for one hour per every 2 pounds, then turn off the oven and let your bird thaw in the bag until you are ready for it.

How Long To Thaw A Frozen Turkey: Turkey Thawing Chart

Turkey WeightIn a FridgeIn a Cold Water
4-6 pounds1 day2-4 hours
8-10 pounds2 days5-6 hours
10-18 pounds2 ½ – 3 ½ days7-9 hours
18-22 pounds3 ½ – 4 ½ days9-11 hours
22-24 pounds4 ½ – 5 days11-13 hours
25-30 poundsup to 6 days13-15 hours

How Long To Thaw A Turkey In Fridge

The time it takes for a turkey to defrost in the fridge is 24 hours per 5 pounds. If you put a 4-pound turkey in the fridge, it will take nearly one day to thaw. But if you place the same weight into a zip-lock bag, then it will take a half-day longer to thaw.

How Long To Thaw A Turkey Breast

The time it takes to thaw a turkey breast is a half-hour per pound. If you used the size of the turkey breast that we recommend, then it will take about one hour to thaw. If you use a microwave for this step, remember to defrost it in 30-second intervals and flip it over once during the process.

How To Thaw A Turkey Overnight

If you find yourself short on time and need your leftover turkey to defrost overnight, then we recommend that you place it in a zip-lock bag and place it inside your refrigerator’s warmest part (usually the bottom shelf). This will make it defrost over the course of 12 hours.

As you can see, there are a ton of different ways to thaw a turkey, and only a few are made easier when you use water as opposed to starting the process in your fridge. But if they’re well-done and ready to serve, it doesn’t make much of a difference!

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Long Does It Take A 20 Pound Turkey To Thaw In The Refrigerator? It can take from 4 to 5 days to thaw a 20-pound turkey in a refrigerator. You need to consider that it takes up to 24 hours to defrost every 5 pounds of turkey.
  • Can You Leave A Turkey Out To Thaw Overnight? No, you cannot leave a turkey out overnight to thaw. Turkey meat will thaw if it is placed in cold water and left for a few hours. If you leave the turkey out and it starts to thaw, you can place it in your refrigerator where it should be good for up to two days.It is difficult to estimate how long the meat will last without refrigeration, but an hour of exposure time is safe, which means that a frozen turkey should last up to three hours without cooking or freezing.
  • How Long Does It Take To Defrost A 13 Pound Turkey? It takes about 2 days for a 13-pound turkey to thaw out. There are faster options, like using the defrost setting on your microwave or by submerging the bird in cold water and changing the water every 30 minutes. But if you don’t want to do either of those things, then be patient!

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