How Long does it Take to Thaw a Turkey in the Fridge?

Do you want to know how long it takes to thaw a turkey in the fridge? That’s a big question for many people. But the good news is that there’s a simple solution. If you’re familiar with how to thaw a turkey in a microwave, you can also thaw it in the fridge. However, you’ll need to remember that the process can vary, so it’s best to give yourself a few extra hours if you get stuck.

How Long Does It Take To Thaw A Turkey In The Fridge

How Long does it Take to Thaw a Turkey in the Fridge?

The number of hours it takes to thaw a turkey depends on several factors. If the meat is completely frozen, it may need up to ten hours to thaw. On the other hand, if the turkey is partially defrosted, it might only require thirty minutes. You should consider the size, weight, and type of the bird.

To thaw a turkey, it should be placed in a large container to submerge in water completely. A large pot is a great option. Alternatively, you can use a sink. However, this method will require you to monitor the water temperature closely. You must change the water at least every 30 minutes.

Once you have filled the pot with cold water, place the turkey in the pot breast side down. Place a dish or plate over the turkey to help weigh it down. Alternatively, you can put a bag of ice in the container.

After 30 minutes, remove the turkey from the water and check the inside for ice crystals. You can thaw the turkey in the fridge when the breast is firm.

A thawing time of eight to twelve hours is recommended for a 20-pound turkey. For a ten-pound turkey, it will take five hours.

Can you Thaw a Turkey in the Microwave?

Whenever you are preparing to cook a turkey, you want to make sure you thaw it the right way. This is important because improper thawing can cause food-borne illnesses.

Several methods of defrosting a turkey include the microwave, cold water, and oven. Depending on the model of your microwave, the thawing time will vary. You can use a defrost calculator to determine how long it will take to thaw your turkey.

The most common method for defrosting a turkey is the microwave. Microwaves tend to heat unevenly. For this reason, some methods are more effective than others.

Before cooking a frozen turkey, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper way to thaw the bird. You should also be aware that cooking a frozen turkey will cause you to lose some of the nutrients and flavor it was originally packed with.

If your microwave does not defrost, you can thaw your turkey in a sink or a large bowl filled with cold water. Make sure that the temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is also important to rotate the turkey. This can help the thawing process work more efficiently.

Can you Thaw a Frozen Turkey in the Freezer?

If you have a frozen turkey in the freezer, you may wonder if you can thaw it. You can use several methods to thaw a turkey, and a few tips to help you get the job done.

First, place your turkey in the refrigerator. The refrigerator should be set to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to prevent the development of dangerous bacteria. You can also use the cold water method.

When you begin the thawing process, you will want to keep your turkey in its original packaging. You don’t want to open the box and let all the juices spill. Use a large baking dish to catch the juices. It’s also important to place your turkey on a roasting rack. The rack will distribute the heat and circulate the juices across the bird’s sides.

The other important factor in thawing a turkey is keeping the temperature of the water and refrigerator consistent. Temperatures above 40 degF will encourage the growth of pathogens that can make you sick.

You can also thaw a turkey in a microwave. However, this is not an ideal method of thawing a turkey. Microwaves do not evenly heat the meat. Also, you will only be able to thaw your turkey halfway.

How do you Thaw a Turkey in Cold Water?

One of the quickest methods to thaw a turkey is with cold water. You can defrost the turkey in one to two days, depending on the size of your bird, but bear in mind that it needs regular care. If you have taken the packaging off the frozen turkey, put it in an extra-large resealable plastic bag and seal it.

The turkey must be in its original packaging. Keep the packaged, frozen turkey submerged with a heavy pie plate or baking dish in a sink or container of very cold water. Every 30 minutes, the water must be changed, and it must be extremely cold to maintain a safe temperature for the bird. This procedure will take roughly eight hours and 16 water changes for a 15 to 16-pound bird. Remember that this requires significantly more time than reheating a cooked turkey for leftovers.

When should you Start Thawing a Turkey?

Not on Thanksgiving Day, for sure! According to the USDA’s calculation, a 16-pound frozen turkey needs at least four days to defrost in the refrigerator before being served, so the Sunday before Thanksgiving would be the perfect day to start the thawing process. Allow more time for thawing if you are preparing a larger bird (Ree has been known to prepare a 20-pound turkey!).

How Not to Thaw a Turkey?

In case you were wondering, the following thawing techniques are not advised:

  • Thawing a turkey in the garage, on the back porch, or the kitchen counter
  • Thawing a turkey in a plastic or a brown paper grocery bag
  • Using a turkey to thaw in the dishwasher (with or without water)
  • Any technique that does not include a refrigerator, a microwave, or cold water

Can you Leave a Turkey Out to Thaw?

Don’t even consider it! The USDA advises against letting a frozen turkey thaw at room temperature, whether on your kitchen counter or in the sink, as the outside of the bird will defrost much earlier than the interior, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Similarly, avoid placing a frozen turkey on your countertop in direct sunlight or any other heated environment.

However, a thawed turkey can only be left at room temperature for two hours before you risk compromising the food’s safety.

How Long can a Turkey Thaw at Room Temperature?

It depends on the size of the turkey and how tightly it was frozen shut.

For every pound (453 grams) of weight, the USDA advises thawing a turkey for three hours.

Therefore, allow your turkey to thaw for 42 hours if it weighs 14 pounds (6.3 kilograms).

However, if the turkey weighs more than 20 pounds (9 kg), you should give it two days to thaw.

What are the Risks of Thawing a Turkey at Room Temperature?

There are a few things to be aware of, even though there are no known health dangers while defrosting a turkey at room temperature.

To begin with, never defrost a raw turkey in water.

This is due to the possibility of meat contamination by bacteria that can develop in warm water.

Additionally, avoid using the microwave to thaw a raw turkey.

It is not advised because microwaves might dry out the meat and hasten its deterioration.

What is the Best Way to Thaw a Turkey?

You can defrost the turkey in your refrigerator if you have access to a large area.

Though it’s always preferable to melt frozen food in cold water.

By doing this, you may stop the growth of bacteria and ensure that the meat stays moist throughout the procedure.

Reference: Consumer Food Handling Recommendations: Is thawing of turkey a food safety issue?

Dietitians and other health and food professionals should convey consistent messages to the general public regarding food safety, but it’s also crucial that the information is supported by research. Reviewing consumer materials from food safety advisory groups and the academic literature reveals contradictory advice. Additionally, warnings are associated with different food-handling techniques. The main issues with defrosting a turkey include pathogens, spoilage germs, and contamination of the workspace. The more important stage is cooking the turkey until it reaches a sufficient internal temperature, which may be verified using a meat thermometer. Thawing the turkey can be done in various ways, including on the counter at room temperature.

How to Thaw a Turkey in the Sink?

Okay, so you’ve run out of time to let your bird gradually defrost in the refrigerator. There is always a Plan B, so it’s completely alright. Put your frozen and packaged turkey in the biggest pot after cleaning your kitchen sink. Fill it with cold water until the turkey is completely submerged; you might need to weigh it down with a plate and a few heavy canned items. After that, drain all the water and replace it every 30 minutes with fresh cold water.

For every 5 pounds of frozen turkey, allow 2 to 3 hours. It should take 8 to 12 hours to prepare the same 20-pound turkey mentioned above. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to brine or air-dry it after; make sure to dry it well. Spices or the traditional combination of butter, salt, and pepper can improve your turkey. Without prior preparation or bringing, our butter-blanketed turkey produces a wonderfully crisp, golden exterior.


To thaw a turkey in the fridge, the basic rule is to give the bird around 24 hours to defrost every 4-5 pounds. A 12-pound turkey, for instance, would thaw in the refrigerator over three days. It would take around three days to thaw a 12 lb turkey completely. To avoid cross-contamination, it’s crucial to remember to place the turkey on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator in a container to catch any drips. Additionally, it is advised that the turkey be safely defrosted for at least one day for every 4 pounds of turkey.