You have actually a few options for appropriately thawing a totality turkey—but if you're analysis this on Thanksgiving morning, feel free to skip ahead because that a cooking an approach where thawing isn't also required.

You are watching: How to quickly thaw a frozen turkey


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If you should know how to thaw a turkey fast, skip front to the second point outlined below. But if you want to understand why turkey thawing is kind of a huge deal, stick roughly for a short explainer ~ above why turkey defrosting guidelines space what they are. Us promise, it's actually kind of interesting and also you may also pick increase some advantageous tips.

First points first, uneven you choose up one of those Thanksgiving turkeys through a pop-up timer this year—and even if friend did, due to the fact that they can't be trusted—you'll want to have actually a thermometer top top hand to recognize for sure once the bird is done. You'll likewise need one to understand for sure exactly how long come thaw your chosen bird. 


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Absolutely every little thing You need to Know about Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy

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You can cook a turkey that's fully thawed, that course, or one that's never been frozen. You have the right to even cook a turkey the is completely frozen. Cooking a turkey that's partially frozen, ~ above the other hand? That means lies disappointment. Maybe this is obvious, however turkeys thaw native the external in, for this reason one that's roasted if still partly frozen will overcook around the edges while continuing to be undercooked in the middle.


For that reason it's a an excellent idea to take it a turkey's temperature indigenous time come time together it thaws. Insert an instant-read thermometer right into the deepest components of the breast, and check in several various places. You're trying to find a thermometer reading above 32°F—above freezing, in various other words—but listed below 40°F. Noþeles warmer than that is favor an invite to food poisoning: pathogens grow above 40 levels that aren't necessarily killed off in the oven.


How best, then, to totally thaw a turkey? together it happens, the persons in the test kitchen at ThermoWorks, the firm that makes the well-regarded Thermapen thermometer, have actually explored this topic in part depth. The USDA too has a whole page devoted to what it calls “The large Thaw,” and—anticipating the devil-may-care cooks amongst us—they write, "Frozen turkeys need to not be left ~ above the ago porch, in the auto trunk, in the basement, or any place else where temperatures can not be continually monitored."


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Defrost your turkey properly for a bird that"s beautiful and safe to eat.

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Prop Styling by Megan Hedgpeth, Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich

The crucial to keep in psychic is that as soon as you store food in a temperature in between 40° and also 140°F, you're in what the USDA calls "the danger Zone"—"a temperature once food-borne bacteria multiply rapidly" (and not, sadly, a titillating montage from height Gun).


With the in mind, it's ideal not simply plop that bird top top the counter and also let it pertained to room temperature while friend flit about the kitchen top top Thanksgiving morning. There are a couple of quick-thaw tricks, which us will gain to in a minute, but that is not among them. Instead, deploy among the 3 sanctioned methods below.

1. The best method to thaw a turkey

Ideally, place the frozen bird right into your refrigerator ~ above bringing it home from the grocer—hopefully numerous days in advance, since it can sometimes take almost a week come thaw completely. This is a tried-and-true method; its cook drawback continues to be that it's additionally the many time-consuming. Arrangement on 24 hours of fridge-thawing because that every four to five pounds the turkey, claims ThermoWorks; thus, because that a 15-pound bird you can expect to wait about three days. (See the full timetable below.) This is finest if you have actually an auxiliary fridge in the basement, however probably a little inconvenient otherwise.

Another tip: You'll absolutely want to collection the turkey top top a rimmed baking paper or in a roasting pan while it thaws come keep any running juices contained.

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How long to defrost a turkey in the refrigerator:

Thawing time is based on bird weight; again: girlfriend will know the bird is fully thawed once it will an inner temperature over 32°F. Per the USDA:

4 to 12 pounds — 1 come 3 days12 come 16 pounds — 3 to 4 days16 come 20 pounds — 4 come 5 days20 come 24 pounds —5 come 6 days

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2. The fastest means to thaw a turkey

If you're reading this v plenty the days to spare, we applaud your preparedness. If not, over there is a quicker path to safely thawed turkey than the one outlined above. By submerging the in ice cream water, even a 24-pound bird deserve to be defrosted in just 12 hours (Thermoworks states to counting on around 8 hours because that a 15-pounder).

There are a couple of means to go about this: First, you might thaw the turkey in your sink. This has the obvious drawback of rendering the sink unusable, and also because the components of the sink will be continuous pulled towards room temperature, it's likewise not a set-it-and-forget-it-type situation. Regularly examine the water's temperature to make certain it never ever gets about 40 degrees. Monitor the proceedings as regularly as every fifty percent hour, and if you see the temperature venturing in that direction, add an ext ice to collection it straight, or drainpipe the sink and also fill the anew. (You'll additionally want to serious sanitize the sink afterward.)