How To Safely Thaw A Turkey 1

We all experienced our first Thanksgiving one time or another. If this is your first year making a turkey don’t stress because it is super easy.

A turkey is so easy to prepare that I am surprised we don’t eat them more often. They provide plenty of meat and really are one of the cheapest meats that you can buy. But you can’t cook it until you thaw it.


How To Safely Thaw A Turkey

*This post contains affiliate links.

Thaw that Bird!

In the fridge

Most of us purchase our turkeys from the frozen section of the supermarket. Be sure that you take it out early enough to thaw properly in the refrigerator. (about 3 days for a 12 pound turkey ) That is really the safest method.

Simple put your turkey in the original wrapper in the refrigerator in a pan or on a tray and it will be thawed when it is time to make your feast. You may leave the turkey in the refrigerator for 2 days before cooking if you use this method to thaw it.

In cold water

If you didn’t take your turkey out in time to thaw you can thaw it in cold water. Leave your turkey in the package and cover it with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Do not use warm or hot water as this simply isn’t safe because it provides the right environment for bacteria to grow. It will take about 30 minutes per pound to defrost if you use this method. You must cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.

In the microwave

In my opinion, thawing your turkey in the microwave is a last resort. If you get in a bind it will work. Remove the wrapper and place the turkey on a microwave-safe dish. It depends on your microwave but it will take approximately six minutes per pound if you use this method. Be sure you are using the defrost setting. You will need to turn it over several times during this process. The turkey must be cooked immediately when thawed.

If in doubt, check out this Turkey Thawing Chart. Do NOT thaw your turkey on the counter top.

*affiliate link I like this one because you don’t have to look up what temperature the meat should be at when done. It is right there for your to see.

What if it is too late to thaw your turkey?

You will be fine. Take a deep breath and simply prepare to cook your turkey 50% longer or more. You will need to use a meat thermometer in the inside of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast to test doneness. When it reaches 165° F it is fully cooked.

Ready to cook: see How to Cook a Turkey Any Time of the Year

About Theresa

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother. I love cooking in the kitchen with my grandchildren and dearly wish my own grandmothers were still here today. They were an important part of my life and with this site I wish to honor grandmothers, families and the recipes they have shared with us.

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