How Long to Defrost a Turkey in the Fridge?

If you have wondered how long it takes to defrost a turkey in the fridge, you are not alone. However, there are a few important tips to keep in mind. You must check whether your turkey is completely frozen or has some moisture. Once your turkey is fully thawed, you can safely cook it.

How Long to Defrost a Turkey in the Fridge

How Long to Defrost a Turkey in the Fridge?

The safest method of defrosting is in the refrigerator because the temperature is controlled, and you may leave it until it is fully thawed.

There is no need to remove any packaging; doing so will prevent the juices and raw meat from contaminating other foods.

A decent rule of thumb is to give each 2 kg of the entire turkey 24 hours, so if your turkey weighs 6 kg, give it three full days to defrost.

Check if your Turkey is Done Thawing.

It’s important to check if your turkey is done thawing before cooking. Leaving it out in the open for too long can cause bacterial growth on the turkey. The risk is even higher if you leave it on the counter for more than two hours.

Using a probe thermometer to test the temperature is a good idea. But it’s not always necessary. The probe isn’t the most accurate method to determining if your turkey is fully thawed.

One way to do this is to poke a fork into the thickest part of the bird. If you feel a solid chunk of ice in the cavity, you’ll know that the turkey isn’t completely defrosted.

Another option is to run cold water into the cavity for a few minutes. This will usually solve the problem. However, it’s not a bad idea to change the water every 30 minutes or so.

The temperature of the water in the kitchen should be considered one of the most important factors when thawing a turkey. Temperatures above 40 degrees F can encourage bacteria to grow.

Do not leave a Frozen Turkey out at Room Temperature to Thaw

A frozen turkey should never be left out at room temperature to thaw. The bacteria that grow in the meat, especially in the outer layer, multiply rapidly when exposed to this temperature range. In addition, they release dangerous toxins that cannot be eliminated by cooking.

One of the best ways to defrost a turkey is to use cold water. This method can save you days of thawing time. However, you must have enough space to submerge the bird completely. You can use a bathtub or a large container holding enough water to submerge the bird.

While the cold-water thawing method is safe, it does require a lot of attention and commitment. It is also quite time-consuming. For that reason, you might prefer to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator.

Ideally, it would help if you used an instant-read thermometer to ensure that your turkey’s temperature is in the acceptable range. If it’s not, you might need to use more ice.

How to Defrost a Turkey at Room Temperature?

It is tempting to choose this option because it takes up less space in the fridge and keeps a room warmer than the fridge. This approach is not quite as secure as temperature-controlled refrigeration, though.

Most people who use this method choose to defrost their birds in the kitchen; however, doing so can be dangerous because kitchen temperatures can fluctuate widely, and your home’s heat can foster the growth of bacteria.

If this is your only choice, check on your turkey frequently because it must be cooked as soon as it is defrosted.

Keep it away from direct heat sources like ovens and kettles by storing it in a baking dish or tin.

How to Defrost Turkey Safely?

The bacteria can bring on sickness in raw turkey and its juices. You must thus take great care to ensure they don’t come into contact with any other food, particularly cooked food. Wash your hands well in hot, soapy water after handling raw turkey before touching anything else.

Before reusing anything that has come into contact with raw turkey or its juices, it must be thoroughly cleaned. Ensure the turkey’s packaging is secure when you purchase it since any rips or tears increase the likelihood that the bird may come into contact with other foods and surfaces while defrosting. Never re-freeze raw turkey after it has been defrosted; temperatures below 10C are the safest.

This should always be kept in mind, whichever defrosting technique you select.

How to Prepare Turkey for Thawing?

Unless you decide to use the microwave, there is no need to take the turkey from its packing before defrosting. Remove the packaging, any metal clips, and the plastic bag containing the neck and giblets before microwaving. Otherwise, please remove it from the freezer and apply one of the techniques listed below.

The best advice is to place the frozen turkey in a sizable metal roasting pan rather than a porcelain or glass dish since things defrost more quickly when they come into contact with metal.

How do I Know if my Turkey is Fully Defrosted?

There are a few ways to determine whether your turkey has defrosted, but you must take the wrapping off each one.

  • Remove the giblet sack and place your hand within the cavity to touch. Feel the cavity area of the breast bone inside the breast. This shouldn’t feel at all frozen. The breast meat should feel tender when pressed. It is still frozen if it is solid.
  • Wiggle: The wings and legs should be able to move freely. The turkey will need to be defrosted more if they are stiff or immobile.
  • Temperature: The thickest region of the calf or breast can be used as a placement point for a probe thermometer. The turkey is still frozen if the temperature is less than 1C.

How Long to Defrost a Frozen Turkey?

The defrosting period is the key to receiving the finest results from your frozen turkey, whether bronze-feather or free-range.

How long your turkey needs to thaw will depend on its size.

Rough thawing guidance is 10 to 12 hours per kilogram in a refrigerator at 4 degrees Celsius. Check the package directions for exact timing.

Defrost in a refrigerator, never at ambient temperature.

Before cooking, all Waitrose turkeys that were either purchased frozen or frozen at home must be defrosted.

Can you Freeze Cooked Turkey?

Yes. Before putting the meat in your freezer, be sure it has cooled.

Any cooked meat left over can be frozen in manageable pieces so that it can be used in various recipes. Alternately, once the turkey carcass has cooled, use it to make stock and freeze it.

Whether you cook your turkey from the freezer or fresh, you may repurpose the leftovers to prepare a different dinner. Defrost it in the refrigerator, ensuring sure it’s covered. After that, this new dish can be frozen for up to a month. Eat it within 24 hours of defrosting and prepare it to absolute perfection.

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.

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.

What if you Thaw your Turkey too Quickly?

According to Wendy Mihm, Director of Food Safety, “If you thaw out your turkey improperly, say by leaving it out on the countertop or somewhere that is not 40 degrees or below, what that does is that it allows your turkey to get into a temperature zone we call the “danger zone,” which invites bacteria to multiply.


We must be cautious as we thaw a turkey, which includes several intricate processes. You can keep it fresh and extend its shelf life by adhering to them.

You can experiment with the various thawing techniques and fix them however suitable. It is also sporadic because it depends on whether you need a thawed turkey or how quickly.