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How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

Are you preparing Thanksgiving for your family?  If so you want to check out this post on how to thaw a frozen turkey before cooking it.  It is important that it is thawed safely as you don’t want anyone to get ill from your meal.

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner


How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey in time for your Thanksgiving dinner.  A lot of people have been asking lately what is the best way to thaw a turkey or how long should I thaw a turkey to be ready to cook.  So of course we had to write an article to help everyone out.  So this post goes over the time guideline for thawing.  How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey: Part 2 post has step by step directions on different thawing methods.

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

Refrigerator Thawing Times
For a Whole Turkey or Turkey Breast:

  • 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

A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking. Foods thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking but there may be some loss of quality according to USDA website. (( I (Stephanie) personally would not recommend doing this)).  However, I will leave that up to you to decide. 

Cold Water Thawing Times 

  • 4 to 12 pounds — 2 to 6 hours
  • 12 to 16 pounds — 6 to 8 hours
  • 16 to 20 pounds — 8 to 10 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds — 10 to 12 hours

A turkey thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately. After cooking, meat from the turkey can be refrozen.

For leftover turkey after it has been cooked you can freeze it for future recipes and to keep it fresh longer. Learn how by clicking here —>How to FREEZE leftover Turkey

Turkey Recipes You May Enjoy:

2 Ingredient Slow Cooker Turkey Breast

Turkey Melt Sandwich

Fried Turkey Leftovers

Smoked Turkey Cranberry-Orange Sandwiches

Crockpot Turkey Tetrazzini 

Turkey and Dumplings

Turkey Pot Pie

Turkey & Gravy Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipe

Turkey Burritos Recipe

Tastes Like Thanksgiving Casserole

Santa Fe Turkey Sandwich

Hot Brown Recipe

Turkey Sandwich Combo


Turkey Pinecone CraftFree

Thanksgiving Worksheets

Coffee Filter Turkey

Painted Turkey

Paperplate Pilgrim

Thankful Thumbprint Tree


Turkey Breast of Wonder (Crockpot)

Crockpot Hashbrown Casserole

Crockpot Sweet Potato Casserole

Crockpot Baked Sweet Potatoes

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Crockpot Corn Casserole

Crockpot Creamed Corn

Crockpot Green Bean Casserole

Crockpot Cranberry Sauce

Crockpot Apple Crisp

Crockpot Blueberry Crisp

Crockpot Spiced Applesauce

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