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  • How to Thaw a Turkey: Answers to Your Fall Food FAQs

How to Thaw a Turkey: Answers to Your Fall Food FAQs

can you thaw a turkey in water

Preparing a holiday turkey doesn’t start with stuffing the bird at 5:00 am. Turkey prep actually begins with thawing the turkey. Whether this takes place days before or just hours in advance is up to you. However, the experts at Lake Appliance Repair want to make sure you know how to thaw a turkey safely.

How to Thaw a Turkey Properly

Thawing a turkey incorrectly can lead to undercooked turkey and even foodborne illness. To avoid these pitfalls we created a list of turkey thawing FAQs. And for additional tips on holiday prep, check out our Ultimate Holiday Planning Guide!

Can you Thaw a Turkey in Water?

The answer to this question is yes, as long as you watch the water’s temperature. Follow these steps for how to thaw a turkey in water:

  1. Place the turkey in its original wrapping in a large zip-top plastic bag. Squeeze all the air out of the bag before sealing it.
  2. Set the turkey breast side down in a large bucket or sink. Fill with cold water so the turkey is completely submerged, weighing it down if necessary.
  3. Change the water every 30 minutes to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  4. Cook the turkey as soon as it’s defrosted.

Estimate about 30 minutes/lb. of thawing time with this method.

how to thaw a turkey
Photo Credit: Everyday Food

How Long Does it Take to Thaw a 25lb Turkey?

Turkey thawing times vary based on weight and thawing method. Here’s a rundown of how long it would take to thaw a 25lb, 10lb and 35lb turkey with the refrigerator and cold water methods:

Refrigerator Method:

25lb turkey 5 days
10lb turkey 2 days
35lb turkey 7 days

Cold Water Method:

25lb turkey 12 ½ hours
10lb turkey 5 hours
35lb turkey 17 ½ hours


What Do You Do if Your Turkey Doesn’t Thaw in Time?

Don’t worry; you can still cook a frozen turkey. You just have to allow for increased cooking time. Generally, it will take a frozen turkey 50% longer to cook. If time is a factor you can also defrost the turkey in the microwave. Be sure to consult your microwave manual for instruction and factor in roughly 9 minutes/lb of thawing time.

Refrain from any of the following methods for how to thaw a turkey to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria:

  • Thawing a turkey overnight at room temperature
  • Soaking the turkey in hot water.
  • Using a direct heat source (i.e. heating pad, hair dryer, etc.) to hasten thawing.

What’s the best Way to Thaw a Turkey?

Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator is widely considered the best method. The consistently cold temperature offers the least risk of harmful bacteria developing. Simply place the turkey in its wrapper on a roasting pan and set the pan in the refrigerator. It takes about 24hrs/5lbs of turkey to thaw. The turkey can remain defrosted in the refrigerator for another two days before cooking.

tips for thaw turkey in refrigerator
Photo Credit: Everyday Food

Now that you know how to thaw a turkey safely and easily, the team at Lake Appliance Repair hope you have a healthy and happy holiday!

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