How Long to Thaw a Turkey in Water?

You want to know how long to thaw a turkey in water before you serve your next holiday meal, but you’re not sure where to begin. You can melt your turkey in the microwave or refrigerator, but there are some safety precautions to keep in mind. Read on for a few tips and dos and don’ts.

Before you begin preparing your turkey, make sure you wash your hands and utensils. Washing your hands will prevent the spread of bacteria. You can also use soap and water to rinse your sink, counters, and cutting board. When you’re ready to prepare your turkey, it’s important to use proper thawing procedures. A 20-pound turkey can take up to ten hours to defrost. To avoid food poisoning, don’t leave the turkey on the counter for longer than two hours.

What is Turkey?

In the genus Meleagris, indigenous to North America, the turkey is a sizable bird. It is a typical bird that is farmed for its flesh, which is a staple cuisine for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States and Canada.

The turkey is a popular game bird for hunting and being used as food. There are many different ways to prepare turkey meat, including roasting, grilling, and smoking. Turkey meat provides a lean source of protein. In addition to being a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, phosphorus, and B vitamins, turkey is lower in fat than chicken.

How Long to Thaw a Turkey in Water?

A turkey can be defrosted faster in water than in the refrigerator, but it also needs more care. The steps for defrosting a turkey in water are as follows:

  • In a sizable, leak-proof plastic bag, place the turkey.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely submerged in cold water.
  • To keep the water out and hasten the thawing process, change the water every 30 minutes.
  • You should allow roughly 30 minutes of thawing time per pound of turkey. This procedure will take a 12-pound turkey about 6 hours to thaw. It’s crucial to remember that a turkey that has been thawed in water needs to be cooked right once since bacteria can quickly grow at room temperature.
  • Additionally, it’s crucial to keep the turkey at a safe temperature while it thaws; the water should be no warmer than 40°F. Bacteria may begin to grow if the water becomes too warm, which may result in food poisoning.

It is always safer and advised to defrost the turkey in the refrigerator so that it can do so gradually and safely. Two days can pass before cooking a frozen turkey that has thawed in the fridge.

What are the Other Methods of Thawing a Turkey?

A turkey can be defrosted in various methods, including:

  • The safest and most recommended way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator. Place the turkey in its original packaging in the fridge, and give every 4-5 pounds of turkey 24 hours to thaw. Depending on the size of the turkey, this process may take several days.
  • The process of thawing in cold water is quicker than thawing in the refrigerator, but it also needs more care. Put the turkey in a plastic bag that won’t leak, and immerse it in cold water. To keep the water out and hasten the thawing process, change the water every 30 minutes. This process requires roughly 30 minutes of thawing time per pound of turkey.
  • Although thawing a turkey in the microwave takes the shortest time, it is not advised because it may result in an unevenly cooked bird. If you decide to utilize this technique, cook the turkey immediately after it has thawed.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that the turkey needs to be cooked right once after thawing, regardless of the method you select. At room temperature, bacteria can multiply quickly, so it’s crucial to handle and store the turkey carefully to avoid contamination.

What is the Correct Method of Freezing Turkey?

The steps for freezing a turkey are as follows:

  • Start with a premium, fresh turkey. Before freezing, check it for any indications of deterioration, such as discoloration or an unpleasant smell.
  • Chop, roast, or cut the turkey into appropriate serving sizes. It will be simpler to cook and thaw later as a result.
  • Cover the turkey tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to avoid freezer burn. Avoid having any air pockets.
  • So that you know when you frozen it and how long it’s been in the freezer, label and date the packaging.
  • Seal an airtight container or a plastic freezer bag with the wrapped turkey inside. Vacuum-sealed bags are a fantastic alternative.
  • Place the package in the freezer’s coldest area, ideally at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Following these instructions, you may properly store your turkey so it can be frozen for up to six months. Before cooking the turkey, don’t forget to let it thaw in the fridge. The risk of bacteria growth can increase if you defrost it at room temperature.

It’s vital to remember that freezing won’t eliminate the bacteria currently inside the turkey, even though it can stop its growth. To avoid contamination, it is crucial to treat and store the turkey carefully before freezing.

How to Store Turkey Meat?

The quality and safety of the turkey must be maintained through proper storage.

  • Turkey should be kept as soon as possible after purchasing in a refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below. The turkey should be kept in the freezer if you aren’t going to prepare it within two days of buying it. Here are some recommendations for preserving turkey:
  • When purchasing a fresh turkey, it should be kept in its original packaging and consumed within two to three days.
  • Turkey that has been cooked should be kept in an airtight container and used within 3 to 4 days.
  • Turkey that has been refrigerated to thaw should be utilized within three to four days. If you defrost it with cold water, you should use it immediately.
  • Turkey should be wrapped tightly in plastic or aluminum foil before being frozen. It should then be placed in an airtight container or a plastic freezer bag. The package should be marked with the date and kept in the freezer’s coldest section. For up to six months, frozen turkey can be saved.
  • To avoid contamination, keeping cooked and raw turkey separate is crucial. Always use different cutting boards, tools, and platters to prevent cross-contamination for raw turkey and other raw meats.

It’s also crucial to remember that ground turkey needs to be consumed within a day or two of purchase and should be kept in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or lower.

Will Brining Work on a Frozen Turkey?

A fresh or unfrozen turkey needs to be brined. However, you can brine and defrost your turkey simultaneously if you’re in a rush. It will take longer if you start from a frozen condition. In the refrigerator, you’ll need at least 24 hours to brine and defrost your turkey simultaneously. The golden rule is to never leave a fresh or frozen turkey out at room temperature for more than two hours, and it should be kept in the refrigerator when you’re not actively preparing the turkey.

The rule of thumb is to brine your turkey for at least an hour per pound. The bird should therefore be brought for at least 12 hours if it weighs 12 pounds. If you have the time, brine your turkey for up to 48 hours for the most flavorful, juicy bird. To prevent foodborne illness, brine the turkey for no longer than two days, keeping it refrigerated at all times.

How to Examine Turkey Meat is Bad?

  • Smell: The aroma of fresh turkey meat should be subtle, almost pleasant. The meat from the turkey should be thrown out if it smells foul, ammonia-like, or rotten. Following are some indicators that turkey meat has spoiled:
  • Fresh turkey flesh ought to be light pink or white. The meat should be thrown out if it has become grey or brown since it has likely spoiled.
  • Fresh turkey meat should be firm to the touch and free of any slimy or sticky characteristics. Meat that feels slimy or sticky has probably gone bad and needs to be thrown out.
  • Temperature: Turkey meat left at room temperature for longer than two hours should probably be thrown away.
  • Packaging: The turkey meat should be thrown away if it is in a bloated package, leaking, or has a broken seal.

When in doubt, it is always better to throw out the turkey meat than to eat damaged meat and become ill. Always use separate cutting boards, tools, and platters to prevent cross-contamination for raw turkey and other raw meats.

What are the Adverse Effects of Consuming Turkey?

Food poisoning, which can produce various symptoms, can be brought on by consuming spoiled turkey.

  • Digestive system signs: When turkey is consumed that has gone bad, common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
  • Fever: A fever could develop as the body fights off the infection.
  • Fatigue and weakness are potential effects of food poisoning.
  • Dehydration: Vomiting and diarrhea contribute to dehydration, resulting in dry mouth, dark urine, and reduced urine production.
  • Headache: One of the signs of food poisoning for some people may be a headache.
  • Additional symptoms: Some people may have joint pain, muscle aches, and general malaise.
  • The spectrum of mild to severe symptoms depends on the type of bacteria that caused the food poisoning. Food poisoning occasionally causes severe side effects like kidney failure, meningitis, or even death.

It’s crucial to remember that some people, such as small children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and persons with compromised immune systems, are more susceptible to developing severe food poisoning. It is advised to avoid eating any rotten turkey if you or someone you know is showing signs of food poisoning.


A water thawing method is another way to thaw your turkey safely. This method is also the most efficient, but it requires you to watch the temperature of the water. As a general rule, you should change the water every 30 minutes.

To thaw your turkey using water, place the turkey breast side down in the tap water. Once it has reached the desired temperature, remove it and put it in a large container. After you have placed the turkey, you should cover it with a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent it from spilling.