How to safely thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator or with cold water in time for Thanksgiving.
Prep2 hours to 72 hours
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For the vast majority of us, the turkey we buy for Thanksgiving and other holidays will be frozen when we bring it home. And good golly, is that turkey frozen solid. Unfortunately, many of us have heard stories about the turkey still being frozen on Thanksgiving morning (although you can actually cook it frozen!), but with a little know-how you can easily avoid that situation (and cope with it if you find yourself in it). Here’s how to thaw a turkey and still be on-schedule for your holiday meal.
Method 1: How to Thaw a Turkey in the Refrigerator
How Long to Thaw a Turkey in the Refrigerator
Method 2: How to Thaw a Turkey in Cold Water
If you’re running short on time, you can speed up the thawing process with the cold water method: Simply submerge the frozen turkey, still in its packaging, in cold tap water, allowing about 30 minutes for every pound of turkey. Here’s how to do it.
How Long to Thaw a Turkey in Cold Water
How to Tell When Your Turkey Is Thawed
Why You Shouldn’t Thaw a Turkey on the Countertop
You should never leave your turkey on the counter to thaw, or try thawing your turkey in warm water, or heating it with a hair dryer, or any other shortcuts, per the USDA. All of these methods bring the turkey’s temperature to the “danger zone” of 40°F to 140°F, which drastically increases your risk of food poisoning.