Thanksgiving FAQs: How to Thaw a Turkey

Turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving. But before you ever sit down to dinner, the first step is knowing how to thaw a turkey.

The professionals at Dave Smith Appliance Service put together a list of FAQs on how to safely thaw turkey so that your Thanksgiving prep starts on the right foot.

4 Tips on How to Thaw a Turkey

Knowing how to thaw a turkey is vital because improper methods can cause the growth of harmful bacteria. Additionally, knowing the thawing method that works best for the time you have ensures that your turkey is perfectly cooked on Thanksgiving Day.

The FAQs below detail safe defrosting instructions so that you can choose a method that works best for you. And if all your Thanksgiving cooking leaves your oven in need of a good cleaning, use this natural oven cleaner.

How Long Does it Take to Thaw a Turkey?

The answer depends on the weight of your bird and your thawing method. Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator generally takes about 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey.

When you thaw a turkey in cold water, it takes about 30 minutes per pound. But make sure you follow our directions below if you choose this method!

Can I Thaw a Turkey in my Refrigerator?

Not only is it ok to thaw a turkey in your refrigerator, but it’s also the most recommended method. Refrigerator thawing allows the turkey to defrost at a consistent temperature, reducing the possibility of bacterial growth. Just be aware that this method also requires the most time, so allow for at least several days of thawing.

Once thawed, the turkey can remain in the refrigerator for another two days. Here’s how to thaw turkey in refrigerator safely:

  1. Keep the turkey in original wrapping.
  2. Place breast side up.
  3. Use a baking pan with sides to contain the turkey and prevent any drippings from contaminating foods or refrigerator surfaces.

Can I Thaw a Turkey in my Sink?

It’s never safe to leave a turkey in the sink or on any surface to defrost at room temperature. Similarly, it’s not advised to defrost a turkey overnight in the sink.

Room temperature defrosting could lead to bacterial growth that may cause harmful illness. Fortunately, there is a method to thaw a turkey in cold water that is fast and safe:

  1. Seal the turkey in its original wrapping in a leak-proof bag, pressing out all air before sealing.
  2. Place the turkey breast side down in a sink or large bucket, completely submerging it in cold water. Weigh it down with a heavy plate if necessary.
  3. Change the water every 30 minutes to ensure it stays cold.
  4. Upon defrosting, cook the turkey immediately.
how to thaw a turkey

Image Credit: Butterball

What if my Turkey is Still Frozen on Thanksgiving Day?

There’s no need to panic if your turkey is frozen on the big day! You can still cook it if it’s frozen; you just need to allow for a 50% longer cooking time.

If your time is truly limited, here’s how to thaw a turkey in the microwave:

  1. First, make sure your turkey fits in your microwave!
  2. Unwrap the bird and place it in a microwave-safe dish.
  3. Use the defrost setting based on the turkey’s weight.
  4. Generally, it takes 6 minutes per pound to defrost in the microwave.
  5. Rotate and flip during defrost.
  6. Cook immediately upon completion.

We hope this information helped you know how to thaw a turkey for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! If you’re ever in need of an oven repair, count on the professionals at Dave Smith Appliance Services.