How Long to Thaw a Turkey Breast in the Fridge?

If you are planning on cooking turkey breast, there are some important things to remember. For example, you need to know the safe temperature to thaw a turkey breast. You also need to know when it is safe to cook the turkey.

A frozen turkey is secure for as long as it is frozen. Bacteria that may have been there prior to freezing will start to develop anew as soon as it starts to thaw. A turkey can be safely defrosted in three different ways: in the refrigerator, cold water, and in a microwave. So, the refrigerator is the greatest place to defrost the turkey breast.

About Turkey Breast

The white meat component of the turkey that is found in the chest area is called the breast. It cooks relatively rapidly because of its slight, soft texture, making it a preferred option for chefs who are short on time.

The only white meat on the entire turkey is the breast. As a result, when serving a sizable gathering, this amount can vanish quickly.

Consider smoking turkey breast rather than the entire bird to ensure every visitor gets a dish of white flesh. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the thighs and drumsticks overcooking before the breast flesh does.

Be cautioned that the price per pound for this cut will likely remain slightly higher than what you would pay for a whole turkey due to its popularity. If it’s any comfort, the breast meat will require less space in the refrigerator and is simpler to prepare.

Reference: The spoilage microflora of cured, cooked turkey breasts prepared commercially with or without smoking

Sliced, vacuum-packed, smoked, oven-cooked turkey breast fillets acquired mild, sour spoiling tastes after 4 weeks at 4°C, with Lactobacillus sakei subsp. carnosus predominating in the spoilage flora. In contrast, the spoilage flora of sliced, vacuum-packed, unsmoked, boiled turkey breast fillets from the same plant that were likewise held at 4°C was dominated by Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides.

How Long should a Turkey Breast Defrost in the Fridge?

When stored in the refrigerator the entire time, turkey breast typically thaws at 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. Since turkey breasts typically weigh 4 to 8 pounds, 1 to 2 days of thawing should be plenty. Verify the package’s weight to calculate how much time you’ll need.

Turkey breast will typically defrost at the same rate as other large slices. For every four to five pounds of meat, it typically takes 24 hours. Therefore, it should take 1 to 2 days for an entire turkey breast to defrost—possibly more if the cut is larger.

After removing the turkey from the freezer, place it on a roasting pan or baking sheet with a rim. As the meat thaws, your objective is to capture any juices that may seep out of the package.

When attempting to defrost meat, keep it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. The turkey breast can be shielded from any warm air gusts that enter the refrigerator when you open the door if you place it at the back of the appliance.

When properly stored in the refrigerator after defrosting, the turkey should retain its flavor and texture for one to two days. Refreeze the meat if you believe you won’t be able to cook it in that amount of time after all.

The freezer should be able to hold frozen turkey breast for up to a year. It should last eternally, but if you try to leave it in the freezer for too long, the texture might degrade. Meat can become dry from prolonged exposure to subzero temperatures.

Whether it’s raw meat or smoked leftovers, keep all meat kept at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The turkey should remain fresh for three to four days after cooking.

Factors to Avoid

  • Turkey breast should not be defrosted on a counter: Room temperature turkey thawing is not recommended owing to the formation of dangerous bacteria and the potential for food illness.
  • Turkey breast should not be thawed in hot or warm water: In addition to growing bacteria, your breast will start “cooking” in some areas.
  • Turkey breast should not be microwaved to thaw: Even on the defrost option, it is not a good idea to microwave-defrost frozen turkey, even though the USDA regards it as a safe practice. Every oven has a distinct power level and wattage. It’s more likely that you’ll have a mix of cooked, defrosted, and still frozen portions.

Turkey Breast Defrosting Time in a Cold Water Bath

If you wait until the day of the picnic to defrost the meat, a cold water bath offers a great shortcut. One warning, though: You must cook the meat right away after the meat has used this method to thaw.

Verify that the turkey’s original packaging is still securely enclosing it. You might need to offer more protection by putting the turkey breast in a sizable zip-top bag or adding more plastic wrap. This will stop water from entering.

Put enough cold water in the sink or a sizable container to completely cover the turkey breast. To prevent the meat from warming to room temperature, rotate it every 30 minutes if any portion of the package protrudes.

Once you’ve dipped the package, pay attention to the time. Replace the cold water every 30 minutes with new supplies. Rotate the package if necessary each time you top off the water supply.

The water shouldn’t get too hot; else, the turkey might spend too much time in the 40 to 140-degree range. Because bacteria can quickly multiply at these temperatures, this is referred to as the “danger zone.”

Using the cold water approach, a frozen turkey breast will thaw at around 30 minutes per pound of meat. Within two hours, a 4-pound package ought to be prepared for the smoker. The same day you take it out of the freezer, a 10-pound turkey breast can be cooked.

Can Turkey Thaw on a Countertop?

Never leave the meat out on the counter to hasten the defrosting process. Although you might be tempted to do this to save time, you would be endangering both your health and the health of your visitors.

As we previously stated, dangerous bacteria prefer temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. Even if you cook the meat later, it becomes unsafe to eat if it sits at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

The turkey breast would defrost while remaining partially frozen if you left it on the counter to thaw. Because of this, you should always defrost meat in the refrigerator, a cold water bath, or at least the microwave.

Can Turkey Breast be Cooked without Defrosting it?

Remember that you can skip this step if you neglect to defrost the turkey breast. You’ll need to cook it for a little longer, but as long as the meat spends most of the cooking time outside the danger zone, there shouldn’t be any issues.

When the meat is still frozen solid, you should, on average, double the estimated cooking time. Therefore, add an hour to your expected serving time if you intended to smoke the turkey breast for 2 hours.

Before cooking the turkey, it is best to have it at least partially thawed. If you have the time, try taking a cold water bath for an hour or two. By doing this, you’ll only need to extend your cooking time by roughly 25%.

How should a Turkey Breast be Thawed?

The bottom shelf of your refrigerator is the easiest and safest place to thaw a full turkey breast in preparation for Thanksgiving. Because the turkey breast will thaw at a constant temperature, it is considered the safest way.

You must make advance plans because it is not the quickest method. However, by keeping raw meat cold at all times, bacteria cannot thrive, protecting everyone from food illness. As a result, it is the ideal and preferred technique for defrosting meat.

You can also quickly thaw raw turkey by submerging it in cold water, though.

Will a Turkey Breast’s Texture Remain the Same After Freezing and Thawing?

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 really isn’t much of a difference.

How Long Can a Turkey Breast Thaw Before Being Cooked?

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 4 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 Without Thawing It From Frozen?

Undoubtedly, a frozen turkey breast can be cooked. In fact, 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 necessity to defrost the turkey breast during cooking, preparing a frozen one does require 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.


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