The Real Amount of Time it Takes to Thaw a Turkey in the Refrigerator
The easiest way to defrost a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. But, how long does that take? Let me just say, you probably should have already started.
After years of trying to properly defrost a turkey in the refrigerator, I have yet to get the timing right. The reason? Unless the turkey is small, it takes days.
Still Tasty has what I consider, based on experience, the best guide on thawing a turkey in the refrigerator. Based on size, here's how long it takes a turkey to thaw based on weight.
- 10 pounds - 2.5 days
- 15 pounds - 3.75 days
- 20 pounds - 5 days
- 25 pounds - 6.25 days
Thanksgiving is just a few days away, so unless your turkey is 10 pounds or you don't plan on eating a 15 pound turkey until late Thanksgiving Day you're out of luck with this method.
Don't fear, there's more than one way to thaw a turkey including the cold water method. However, this does take a lot more of your time and attention.
- Make sure the turkey is in a leak-proof bag.
- Place the turkey in something that will hold enough cold water water to submerge the turkey. Drain and refill with cold water every 30 minutes.
- Warning - Do not use warm or hot water unless you want to risk food poisoning.
- Plan on thirty minutes per pound to completely thaw the turkey. A 10 pound turkey will thaw in about 5 hours. A 25 pound turkey will take 12 hours.
Believe it or not, if you have a microwave large enough and with a defrost setting, you can use it to thaw a turkey.
Every microwave is different so you'll have to find the owners manual for this method. Microwave thawing also means you'll have to cook the turkey immediately.
Finally, if it's Thanksgiving Day and the turkey you're cooking is frozen, there's still a way to bake a delicious bird if you have some time.
As an example, a 15 pound frozen turkey baked at 325 degrees will take up to 5 hours or about 50% longer than if it was thawed.
If the frozen bird has a giblet package stuffed inside and you can't get it out, bake the turkey until it's thawed enough to remove the giblets.
Whether you use one or a combination of these methods, the most important thing is that when baked, the temperature of the turkey should be at least 165 degrees at both the inner thigh and the thickest part of the breast. Happy eating!