Safely Defrost Your Thanksgiving Turkey


What is the best way to defrost a frozen turkey? How long will it take to defrost? The most important thing about cooking for your loved ones is food safety! Depending on the size of your turkey, it could take days to properly thaw your turkey in the refrigerator so make sure you prepare ahead of time.


Use these guidelines for thawing your turkey to help keep your family and friends safe from food poisoning.

When thawing your turkey in the refrigerator, allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. Thaw your turkey in a large pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. Protect food in the refrigerator from having any contact with the turkey.

When thawing your turkey in cold water, allow approximately 30 minutes per pound of turkey. Leave the plastic covering on the turkey. An insulated cooler is a great container to thaw your turkey in. Thaw the turkey, breast side down, making sure the turkey is always completely covered with water. Change the water every 30 minutes.

TURKEY SIZE                    IN THE REFRIGERATOR                         IN COLD WATER

4 TO 12 POUNDS                       1 TO 3 DAYS                                            2 TO 6 HOURS

12 TO 16 POUNDS                     3 TO 4 DAYS                                            6 TO 8 HOURS

16 TO 20 POUNDS                     4 TO 5 DAYS                                            8 TO 10 HOURS

20 TO 24 POUNDS                     5 TO 6 DAYS                                          10 TO 12 HOURS

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    • Yes there are as bacteria grows so fast in poultry. My husband is a retired health inspector so I saw some pretty nasty videos about defrosting improperly. You’re welcome Ultra and have a great weekend!

    • Well I wasn’t going to but my grandkids moved back in Sunday and will be here until the pandemic gets better. Their mom now works full time in ICU with the Covid patients putting her at high risk of getting it and passing it to her kids, my husband and me. I had no interest in cooking for Thanksgiving since we cancelled our family get together. Now I am excited to make it for my grandkids. They will probably be here for Christmas too. Waiting for remote learning to start. As with you, I am not looking forward to that!

      • That is great news that you’ll be spending time with your grandkids! I am sorry to hear about your daughter having to work in the ICU full time now. Wishing her good health and safety. Enjoy your Thanksgiving together and look forward to your dinner recap!

  1. If I can buy fresh great but frozen is fine but in pan large enough to take a bird cover over and leave in green house now colder than fridge for four days and nights then brine in large vessel in kitchen up to Christmas cooking day. I find I have never enough room in a fridge Freezer unit to take a good size frozen bird over 3 days and nights at festive times. We have no thanksgivings as we lost but kept the deeds to Virginia but as it is marked by Red Indian agreement with Captain John Smith and Captain Strictland who gave a roasted turkey to Queen Elizabeth 1 to eat at Christmas and who made a fortune enough to build Sizergh Castle to live in. So Royal family or Government must still have that signed deed to Virginia. In a court would it hold? Jury out of that but as America has no deed of ownership that can be argued still who owns said state.

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