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How to Thaw a Turkey

One of the most important things to know about holiday cooking. How to Thaw A Turkey. Check out these tips for a perfectly thawed bird.

Roast Turkey on holiday table

The holidays are coming and with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even Easter not that far away those big feasts that everyone loves are getting closer too! There always seems to be team ham, team turkey, and team roast beef. Those turkey folks have the tough job of knowing exactly how to thaw a turkey before they cook it for the best most succulent dinner. Check out these tips for how to thaw a turkey and keep it safe and delicious for your big meal.


Thawing a turkey in the fridge is probably the most common and easiest way. Since most turkeys come frozen, removed your turkey from the freezer and place in the fridge.

Allow 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. Butterball has a handy turkey calculator for more accurate times. Once thawed, use within 1 or 2 days.

Cold Water

So you forgot to get your turkey out in time. No problem. You can speed up the thawing process with the cold water method: Simply submerge the frozen turkey, still in its packaging, in cold tap water. Change out the water every 30 minutes, and estimate roughly 30 minutes for every pound of turkey.

Now, if you were using the fridge method only to discover your turkey is still partially frozen Thanksgiving morning (THE WORST!) you can use the cold water method to finish it up.

Turkeys thawed in cold water should be cooked immediately after thawing.

No Defrost Method

Believe it or not, you don’t NEED to defrost your turkey. ~GASP!~ I know, this is crazy, but hear me out.

It is actually totally safe to cook a frozen, or partially frozen turkey. Simply roast it at 325°F and increase the cooking time by about 50 percent if totally frozen, or about 25 percent if partially frozen.

The heat of the oven keeps the turkey out of the unsafe temp zone. As the turkey thaws, it also starts to cook.

IMPORTANT Remove the giblets as soon as they are thawed enough to do so, and season the turkey with salt, pepper, and other spices halfway through cooking.

The turkey is done when it registers at least 165°F in all areas.


There are a few things to avoid! Keep your turkey safe and avoid illness by watching out for these things.

NEVER thaw your turkey by just setting it out at room temperature! It may seem like the easiest way to have meat naturally defrost, but it creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and toxins that may still be present even after the bird is cooked. Either thaw in the fridge or in cold water.

Don’t place your turkey in hot water thinking it will thaw faster.

REMEMBER to keep your uncooked turkey out of the “unsafe zone” of 40°F to 140°F for longer than is safe, and your risk of food poisoning increases drastically.


Now that you are ready with your turkey there are so many tasty ways to cook it. You can brine your turkey before cooking.

The choice is yours. Any way you slice it, I hope you enjoy!

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