How Long To Thaw Turkey (And Why)?

How Long To Thaw Turkey (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2-3 Days

Thawing is the process of bringing frozen food to a temperature (above 0 ° C) without residual ice, i.e. “Defrosting”. Defrosting is viewed as simply reversing the freezing process. However, defrosting is a major problem that does not occur with freezing.

Most bacteria that cause food spoilage or food poisoning are found on the surface of many foods. During freezing, the surface temperature drops rapidly and bacterial growth is severely limited and bacteria become completely dormant below 10 ° C.

During the defrosting operation, these are the same surfaces that are the first surfaces to increase the temperature and re the reproduction of bacteria is activated. In large objects with uncontrolled long thawing cycles, surface degradation can occur before the central regions are completely thawed.

How Long To Thaw Turkey

How Long To Thaw Turkey?

There are three ways to safely defrost a frozen turkey: slow, medium, and fast. Review the following instructions on how to defrost a turkey and choose the method and schedule that works best, whether you are ready to cook flat or need to fix something at the last moment.

Allow about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. A 15 lb bird will take about 3 days to thaw completely. Store turkey in its original packaging while thawing. Place the breast face down on a baking sheet to avoid dripping onto other food and the surface of the refrigerator.

A thawed turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before cooking. How long will it take: Allow about 30 minutes per pound of turkey. A 15-pound turkey will take 7½ to 8 hours to thaw completely. Store the turkey in its original packaging and place it in a larger sealed plastic bag. Squeeze out excess air and close the neck of the bag.

Place the sealed bag side-down in a sink or bucket large enough for the turkey to be completely submerged in the water. Cover with cold water. People may need to cover the turkey with a plate and place heavy jars on top to keep it completely submerged. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after defrosting.

People can also use a combination of the two: use the refrigerator for the first two days of defrosting, and end up in the sink early in the morning on Thanksgiving. Time and power settings vary by model. Typically, it can take an hour or more to defrost, depending on the size of the turkey. Remove the turkey from its packaging and remove the metal clips or tags.

Turkey WeightHow Long to Thaw
10 to 18 pounds2 to 3½ days
22 to 24 pounds4½ to 5 days

Why Thaw Turkey For So Long?

Place the turkey breast face down in a microwave-safe skillet to collect drops. After defrosting the turkey, wash the inside of the microwave to avoid cross-contamination. Impressions are approximate and based on thawing a whole frozen turkey.

Defrosting in the refrigerator takes approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at about 40 degrees F (5 degrees C). Coldwater defrost takes approximately 30 minutes per pound of cold water, renewing every 30 minutes.

This is the best option. Although it takes up a lot of space in the refrigerator, it is also an ideal way to keep the turkey at a safe temperature while thawing. In fact, it is so safe that the USDA says people can re-freeze the turkey after thawing in this way.

Thaw the turkey about 24 hours for every 4 lb. so a 16 lb bird will take about 4 days. Place the turkey (in its original packaging) in a large bowl in the refrigerator to sprinkle with water droplets.

If a person does not have a large enough fountain, he can use a clean, odorless garbage bag; just make sure there are no holes in it. Because this method safely defrosts poultry, he may want to wait a day or two before cooking the turkey. Before one puts their turkey in the oven, they should learn how to marinate their turkey properly.


Ideally, people should follow your microwave’s instruction manual for the correct power level and timing. The USDA recommends thawing a turkey for 6 minutes per pound. They also recommend placing the turkey on a dish to catch any leftover turkey juices. A 12-pound turkey would take about an hour and 12 minutes to thaw.


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23 thoughts on “How Long To Thaw Turkey (And Why)?”

  1. Thawing a turkey can be quite a process, but this post makes it easier to comprehend the steps involved in each method of thawing.

    1. The detailed explanations and tips provided in this article are certainly beneficial for anyone preparing to cook a turkey.

  2. I find thawing the turkey for so long quite inconvenient and time-consuming, especially for someone who needs to cook it urgently. The slow thawing process might not work for everyone.

    1. I see your point, but considering food safety and the prevention of bacterial growth, the slow thawing process is necessary for proper cooking and avoiding health risks.

  3. Thawing the turkey for 2-3 days seems like a lot of waiting, but it’s clear that the article outlines the importance of ensuring the turkey is thawed properly to avoid foodborne illnesses.

    1. I appreciate the detailed explanation in this post. It’s important for readers to understand why the thawing process is so essential for the safety of the food they prepare.

    2. Avatar of Sebastian Richardson
      Sebastian Richardson

      You’re right, the time it takes to thaw the turkey might seem long, but it’s crucial for food safety. This article does a great job explaining the reasoning behind this.

  4. I’m not sure if I want to wait 2-3 days for my turkey to thaw. It seems like a lot of time. Could there be a faster, yet safe, method?

    1. I understand your concern, but it’s vital to ensure the turkey is thawed safely. Perhaps the fast thawing method could be more suitable for your situation.

  5. The post provides both detailed instructions and the scientific reasons behind the recommended thawing times. It’s a perfect combination of information for readers.

    1. I appreciate how the importance of thawing times is explained here. It’s essential for anyone handling raw turkey to understand these details.

    2. I completely agree. This article offers valuable insights and crucial tips based on scientific principles.

  6. This article provides comprehensive information on the thawing process and the different methods to defrost a turkey. It is very helpful for anyone planning to cook a turkey.

  7. The detailed instructions provided in this post are quite helpful in understanding the different thawing methods and how to handle a turkey properly.

    1. Absolutely, the step-by-step guidance makes it easier for readers to understand and choose the method that works best for them.

    2. I agree. This post offers valuable information, especially for those who are unsure about how to properly thaw a turkey.

  8. I appreciate the science-based approach in this article. It’s clearly explained why thawing times are critical for ensuring food safety.

    1. Absolutely, understanding the reasoning behind the thawing process is essential for anyone handling and cooking poultry. This post does a great job explaining it.

  9. The microwave thawing method, although quickest, requires careful attention to avoid under-thawing or overheating. It’s important to follow the instructions thoroughly.

    1. You’re absolutely right. Microwave thawing can be tricky, and the post emphasizes the need for following instructions to thaw the turkey safely.

  10. The detailed instructions regarding timing and safety precautions in this article provide a comprehensive guide for anyone preparing to cook a turkey.

    1. The post certainly covers all aspects of thawing a turkey and ensures readers have a clear understanding of how to do it safely and properly.

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