7 Days to a Stress-free Thanksgiving – Day 3 How to Thaw a Turkey

7 Days to a Stress-free Thanksgiving

7 Days to a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

 Day 3 How to Thaw a Turkey

Welcome to our new series 7 Days to a Stress-free Thanksgiving.  All this week we are giving your tips and tricks to help you with Thanksgiving dinner so you can enjoy your time with family and friends and not be stressed out.  We’d love to hear your tips too, please leave them in the comments.  The topic for today is “how to thaw a turkey.”  Many people opt for a frozen turkey for many reasons: price, selection and the ability to purchase well in advance of the holiday.  However, you do need to plan the time needed to thaw the turkey and know how to safely thaw it.

Refrigerator Thawing

Turkey should remain in the package.  Allow 24 hours for each 4 pounds of turkey for proper thawing in the refrigerator.  Make sure you put the bird into a pan or some type of container to catch any juice that may leak out of the package.  After a turkey is completely thawed, it will remain good for about 2 more days in the refrigerator.  For a whole turkey here are the average thaw times:

  • 4 to 12 pounds — 1 to 3 days
  • 12 to 16 pounds — 3 to 4 days
  • 16 to 20 pounds — 4 to 5 days
  • 20 to 24 pounds —5 to 6 days

Cold Water Thawing

Allow about 30 minutes per pound. You can leave the turkey in its packaging but you should put it in a sealed plastic bag to prevent it from absorbing any water. Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. The turkey should be cooked immediately after thawing.

Microwave Thawing

Probably not the best way to thaw a turkey, but it can be done. Follow the microwave oven manufacturer’s instruction when defrosting a turkey. Make sure the turkey is small enough to fit in your microwave. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the bird may  begin to cook during microwaving.

Here are some other great tips on thawing a turkey direct from Butterball.

Read day 1 of our Series 7 Days to a Stress-Free Thanksgiving or day 2 here.  Also make sure to check out our Thanksgiving section for the latest Thanksgiving related articles, deals and coupons.


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here