Thawing a Turkey

One of the top questions i receive during this time of year is…”How long does it take to thaw a Turkey?”  This post will attempt to answer all of your questions regarding this tricky topic.  I will review the following:

  1.  How to thaw a turkey
  2.  How long it takes to thaw a turkey
  3. What to do with a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving morning!

Thanksgiving Turkey

Thawing a Turkey

The time it takes to thaw a turkey is solely based on the weight of the turkey.  The general guideline is that thawing will take approximately 1 day for every 4 lbs.  Once the turkey is thawed, you need to use it within 4 days of thawing. Follow the chart below to safely thaw your Thanksgiving Day turkey.  If you do not have enough time to thaw your turkey based on these guidelines, you can thaw the turkey in cold water.  Skip to the next section to see how. ****If you are reading this and it is Thanksgiving Morning, Click here to learn how to cook a Frozen Turkey!****

When to Thaw your Turkey for Thanksgiving in a Refrigerator

Turkey SizeMinimum Time to ThawDay to Put in Fridge Before Thanksgiving
4-12 lbs1-3 DaysMonday
12-16 lbs3-4 DaysSunday
16-20 lbs4-5 DaysSaturday
20-24 lbs5-6 DaysFriday

*Remember, once thawed you need to cook the turkey within 4 days.

Directions to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator

Place your turkey breast side up in the original package in a shallow pan.  Place in a refrigerator and let thaw using the chart above.

Don’t worry if you are reading this and don’t have enough time to thaw your turkey based on the chart above.  You can thaw your turkey under cold water.

When to Thaw your Turkey for Thanksgiving under cold water

Turkey SizeTime in hours, in cold water
4-12 lbs2-6 hours
12-16 lbs6-8 hours
16-20 lbs8-10 hours
20-24 lbs10-12 hours

 

Directions to thaw a turkey under cold water

This method takes a lot more work, but will give you a thawed turkey in less time.  Place your turkey (in the original package), breast side down in a sink or bucket.  Completely cover in cold water.  Change the water every 30 minutes.  If you are unable to completely cover the turkey, rotate it every 30 minutes to keep it cold.  Once thawed, immediately refrigerate or cook.

What to do with a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving morning!

Cook the turkey frozen.  Sounds weird, but it works.  Follow the link below for step by step instructions.

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

About Author

Rex

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

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