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Thanksgiving Techniques

Thawing a Turkey

While thawing is easy to understand, it may be the one technique that is most overlooked. But this simple task is your first step to a beautiful, flavorful roasted turkey.

Refrigerator Method

Step 1:

The safest way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator. Place the turkey in its original packaging breast side up on a shallow baking sheet with a small outer lip. This will help contain any juices that might leak out.

Step 2:

Place the turkey on the bottom refrigerator shelf. During thawing, the turkey may drip and contaminate foods below—keeping it on the lowest shelf helps prevent cross-contamination.

This is the recommended way to thaw a turkey.

REFRIGERATOR METHOD

Whole Turkey WeightThawing Time
8 to 12 lb.1 to 2 days
12 to 16 lb.2 to 3 days
16 to 20 lb.3 to 4 days
20 to 24 lb.4 to 5 days
Cold Water Method

Step 1:

If refrigerator thawing is no longer an option, do a quick thaw. Place the frozen turkey in its original packaging breast side down in a sink or cooler filled with cold water.

Step 2:

Fully submerge the turkey changing the water every few hours so it stays cold. Thawing will take about 30 minutes per pound.

This is the quicker way to thaw a turkey.

COLD WATER METHOD

Whole Turkey WeightThawing Time
8 to 12 lb.4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 lb.6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 lb.8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 lb.10 to 12 hours