Most turkeys come frozen – so before you can prepare your turkey holiday meal, you need to learn how to defrost a turkey properly. The real question is: how long does it take to thaw a turkey??? As a cookbook author and holiday cooking enthusiast, I’m here to help! Today you’ll learn two options for thawing a turkey safely for your holiday meal…
Two ways to thaw a turkey
I’ll share step-by-step photos below demonstrating both methods to thawing a turkey…
- Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. Your refrigerator should be kept at 37 – 40 degrees fahrenheit, which is the standard fridge temp. It takes ~3-6 days depending on size.
- Thaw a turkey submerged in water. This method is a bit more controversial and isn’t considered the most safe way to thaw a turkey since the temperature of the water isn’t going to stay consistent, like it does in the fridge. It is faster.
See the video guide to thawing turkey…
How long does it take to thaw a turkey in the fridge?
The ratio here is simple, if you are thawing a turkey in the fridge, plan on 24 hours for every 5 pounds your turkey weighs.
- 12 – 15 pounds: ~ 3 days
- 16 – 20 pounds: ~ 4 days
- 21 – 25 pounds: ~ 5 days
- 25+ pounds: ~ 6+ days
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You can thaw a turkey in a sink?
Yes, you can thaw a turkey in the sink, however (disclaimer) it is NOT recommended for safety purposes.
With that said, sometimes we are in a pinch during the holidays and you have to speed things up…
How to thaw a turkey in the sink
- Keep it fully submerged under cold water. (You can keep it in the plastic)
- Change and refresh the cold water every 20 – 30 minutes for safety.
How long it takes to thaw a turkey in the sink
In general, it should take about 30 – 40 minutes per pound to thaw a turkey in the sink under cold water.
I use a pot lid to make sure the turkey defrosts submerged under cold water…
Again, this method isn’t fully recommended since it’s more difficult to keep the water temperature cool enough to thaw properly and safely, but it’s a quicker way to thaw a turkey vs. thawing in the fridge.
Now I’ll share my favorite turkey recipes, so you can really impress this year.
See tasty recipes for holidays
- Tri Tip (it’s seriously the best!)
- Smoked turkey breast
- Oven roasted turkey
- Turkey brine recipe
- Brown butter sage sauce
- Smoked mac and cheese
- Smoked turkey
- Oven baked ham
- Smoked whole turkey
- Traeger spatchcock turkey
- Caramelized onions
- Air fryer baby potatoes
- Air fryer turkey breast tenderloin
- Garlic herb compound butter
- Bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers
- Sous vide turkey breast
- Chorizo sausage stuffing
- Easy leftover turkey recipes
- Sous vide Brussels sprouts
- Potato side dishes
- Pasta side dishes
- How to make a turkey gravy packet better
- Air fryer turkey legs
- Smoked turkey legs
- Smoked mac and cheese
Are you a foodie, too?
Hey home chef, hope that answers all your questions about thawing a whole turkey…the safe way.
Next, browse the Sip Bite Go recipe collection…