How Long does it Take to Thaw a Turkey Breast?

If you’re not going to utilize the turkey right away, freezing it is a terrific technique to extend its shelf life.

When it’s time to eat, a lot of folks do this and then ask how to defrost the turkey breast.

Although it’s not difficult, defrosting a turkey breast does involve some forethought due to how long it takes.

How Long Does It Take To Thaw A Turkey Breast

How Long does it Take to Thaw a Turkey Breast?

A turkey breast typically takes two days to thaw completely in the refrigerator, although the amount of time depends on the size of the bird. For every 5 pounds of turkey breast, it is generally recommended to defrost for 24 hours. Nevertheless, depending on your technique, the thawing period may be as little as 3 hours.

The remainder of this post will teach you all you need to know about freezing and thawing a turkey breast so that you can do it with confidence.


There are many reasons why you may want to cook a turkey breast in the microwave. It’s convenient and saves time. Microwaves are also a great way to get a moist turkey.

The first thing to do is to remove the giblets and pat the meat dry. Be sure to use a bleach solution for washing the turkey’s surfaces. If you are unsure how to cook your turkey in a microwave, check your appliance’s manual.

Turkey breast should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a probe, check the temperature of the turkey every 18 minutes. Once the breast reaches this temperature, it should be basted with browning sauce and natural juices.

To prevent the breast from drying, it should be turned over once halfway through cooking. Also, leave space between the breast and the bone to allow air to circulate.

When the turkey is done, remove it from the microwave and place it on a cutting board. You can slice it into strips or serve it whole.


A turkey breast can be easily defrosted, but the time it takes will depend on the size of the breast and the method you use. You can either thaw the whole turkey or just the breast.

If you want to thaw your turkey breast in the refrigerator, you must use a thermometer. The temperature should be at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid bacteria growth.

It’s also important to keep your turkey in the original wrapping. This will prevent it from getting spoiled by the juices inside the container. Adding extra plastic wrap is also a good idea. During the thawing process, the meat will develop a layer of sliminess on the outside.

You can also use a microwave for this. To thaw a turkey in the microwave, you must place the bird on a dish. When done, remove the outer wrapping. Use your owner’s manual to determine the recommended time for thawing your turkey.

In the Sink

If you plan on cooking a frozen turkey, you can easily thaw it in the sink. However, this method is not without its challenges. You’ll need to watch the water, make sure it is cold, and rotate the turkey during the thawing process.

The temperature of the water should be 40 F or lower. This temperature is called the “danger zone,” where bacteria rapidly multiply and cause food poisoning. For this reason, it is best to use a cold-water sink and change it regularly.

You’ll also need a thermometer to monitor the temperature. The best way to determine the temperature is to insert a food thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. Alternatively, you could poke a fork through the cavity to see if the meat is ice-free.

After thawing the turkey in the sink, it’s time to move it into the refrigerator. The neck and giblets can be kept in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.

Checking the Temperature of a Turkey

The best way to check the temperature of a turkey breast is to use a thermometer. This is the only way to know if your meat has reached the right temperature. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can also check the juices of the meat. However, this method is not reliable. You may not realize that you have overcooked your turkey. It’s also possible to get food poisoning.

To use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of a turkey, insert it into the thigh, which is the thickest part of the turkey. You should be able to feel resistance when you insert it. Once you have inserted it, hold the thermometer in its position until the numbers stop moving.

To remove the thermometer, you should take the turkey out of the oven. This will reduce the internal temperature by about 50degF. When you take the turkey out of the oven, you should close the door.

How do you Properly Thaw a Turkey Breast?

The simplest (and safest) method for defrosting a turkey breast is to place it in the refrigerator and wait.

However, you can submerge your frozen turkey in cold water to help it thaw more quickly. Simply keep an eye on the water temperature with this method to ensure that your turkey doesn’t start to spoil.

Anyone knowledgeable about defrosting turkey will advise you to do it in the refrigerator. This is because using this method is the simplest, and the turkey breast will defrost more uniformly.

Maintaining your turkey in the refrigerator for a few days shouldn’t be an issue as long as you prepare ahead of time.

Simply place the frozen turkey in a bowl or tray in the refrigerator while it is still in its packaging. This will catch any juice or condensation that forms while the food is thawing. To protect the stuff below it from infection, you should still place your thawing turkey at the bottom of the refrigerator, just in case.

You can place the frozen turkey (while still wrapped) in a large bowl of cold water on the counter if you don’t have time to thaw it in the refrigerator. This approach requires a little more work because you need to change the water every 30 minutes to keep it cool and prevent the turkey from becoming rancid.

But because of this, your turkey breast needs to thaw in 3 to 8 hours.

If you use cold water, ensure it is always at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You could get sick from eating the turkey if you let the water get any warmer since that could encourage the growth of bacteria.

How Long can you Wait to Cook a Turkey Breast After Thawing it?

You can cook a turkey breast immediately or wait a little while after it has thawed. Just be aware that it needs to be prepared within four days. If you wait any longer, there’s a chance the turkey will spoil and become unfit for consumption. The ideal time to cook the turkey breast after freezing is one to three days, although a maximum of four days should be allowed.

After the turkey breast has thawed, you may find that it has an odd texture or odor if you wait too long to cook it. When turkey is bad, it frequently smells like rotten eggs and feels especially slimy. Unfortunately, you’ll have to throw the turkey out if this occurs because the bacteria that have begun to grow won’t be eliminated even if you cook the food at a very high temperature.

Can you Cook a Turkey Breast from Frozen without Thawing?

Undoubtedly, a frozen turkey breast can be cooked. Some individuals even favor it! It comes out even more juicy than if you wait for it to defrost, plus there is less waiting and mess. However, if you cook the turkey directly from frozen, it won’t be able to be brined or spiced, which may be a deal-breaker for some of you.

Cooking your turkey breast straight from frozen might be of interest to you. If so, a roasting pan and roasting rack are required. The roasting pan can then have tin foil in the bottom and the roasting rack on top. The turkey is then placed on a roasting rack. By employing this technique, you may prevent the turkey from sitting in any cooking liquids.

After that, all you have to do is bake it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the need to defrost the turkey breast during cooking, preparing a frozen one requires more time than cooking a thawed one.

Typically, after being thawed, it will take around 1.5 times as long to cook as it would have.

Reference: Eating Quality and Thiamin Retention of Turkey Breast Muscle Roasted and “Slow‐Cooked” from Frozen and Thawed States1

A sensory panel and thiamin content were used to assess the eating quality of turkey breasts that had been “slow-cooked” or traditionally roasted from frozen or thawed states. Breasts that were “slow-cooked” had reduced overall cooking loss, less thiamin was retained, and was more tender than breasts that were normally roasted. The treatments had no effect on texture or juiciness.

Will a Turkey Breast have the Same Texture After it is Frozen & Thawed?

The difference between a turkey breast that has been frozen and one that has is not particularly observable. Most turkeys you’ll find in stores are or have been frozen at some time, and they always taste great.

Some people believe that frozen and thawed turkey breast may be a little bit drier than fresh turkey breast. This is feasible because freezing food causes it to lose some of its moisture. The turkey breast can still be juicy even if frozen as long as you don’t overcook it. However, there isn’t much of a difference.


Although it does take some time for turkey breasts to defrost, utilizing cold water helps hasten the process. Whatever option you select, defrost the turkey to prevent food poisoning safely. Also, remember that you may always cook it straight from the freezer if you don’t want to go through the thawing procedure.