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Complete how to thaw a turkey tutorial.

How to Thaw a Turkey

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  • Author: Erin Jensen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Thaw Time: 60 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 thaw turkey 1x
  • Category: How-To
  • Method: Refrigerator
  • Cuisine: American


How to Thaw a Turkey – need to thaw a turkey? This is your go-to guide on thawing any turkey or turkey breast. All your questions answered!


  • 1 (12 pound) whole turkey


  1. Keep the turkey in the original wrapper.
  2. Place your turkey breast side up in a pan to prevent any drippings from getting all over your fridge. Ensure the temperature of your fridge is 40 degrees F. or colder.
  3. Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.
  4. Once the turkey is thawed in the fridge it can continue to stay there for up to 2 days before cooking – this is one perk to thawing in the fridge!


  • Never: never thaw a turkey using hot/warm water, in a microwave, oven or at room temperature.
  • Refrigerator vs. Cold Water: the safest way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator, as described above. The Cold Water method works well in a pinch, but you really have to be careful and watch the water temperature and you have to cook your turkey immediately.
  • USDA: for more information about food safety, cross contamination and/or answers to other foodborne illness questions please check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.