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How to Thaw a Turkey

There's more to thawing a turkey than just taking it out of the freezer. Follow these tips to protect your bird from harmful bacteria.


  • Step 1: Plan accordingly Give your bird enough time. You need a full day for every four pounds of turkey to defrost in the fridge, and a half hour per pound to defrost in cold water.
  • Step 2: Know your options Plan to thaw your turkey either in the fridge or in cold water. Do not microwave to defrost a turkey.
  • TIP: If you have the time, defrosting in the refrigerator is best because it ensures your turkey stays below 40 degrees, decreasing the chances of bacterial growth.
  • Step 3: Know your fridge Know your fridge's temperature setting and which areas are coldest. Allow more time if the turkey is in a colder area of your fridge.
  • Step 4: Thaw breast up Place the turkey breast-side up in the fridge. Put it on a tray to keep your fridge clean.
  • Step 5: Thaw breast down in water Place the turkey breast-side down in your kitchen sink to thaw in water. Cover it with cold water, and change the water every half hour so it stays cold.
  • TIP: Leave the turkey in its original wrapping, whichever method you use.
  • Step 6: Cook within four days Store a thawed turkey in the fridge no longer than four days before cooking.
  • FACT: Minnesota raised the most turkeys in 2006, producing 45 million.

You Will Need

  • A frozen turkey
  • Adequate time
  • A tray (optional)

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