How to Thaw a Turkey


How do you thaw a turkey? How long does it take to thaw a turkey? What is the thawing time needed for a turkey? How long to thaw a turkey?


There are two ways to properly thaw a turkey:

1) The best way to thaw a turkey is to place it into the refrigerator. It will completely thaw in the number of days in the table below, depending on the temperature of your refrigerator and the size of the turkey.

2) If you need to thaw a turkey quickly then place it in a large sink or a large bucket of cold water. We use the large tubs like you can put toys or keep beverages cold at a party. Put the turkey (in its original packaging) into the tub and then fill with cold water. Be sure to change the water every hour or so once your turkey begins to thaw. Turkey thawing times in cold water are also listed in the table below.

** WARNING: NEVER thaw a turkey at room temperature, because bacteria will have a hey-day by the time it is thawed. **

How Long To Thaw A Turkey

Food Waste

How Long To Thaw A Turkey?

The time needed to thaw a turkey depends on the temperature and the weight of the turkey. You need to allow ample time to thaw a turkey because you never want to cook a turkey from the frozen state. So, how long does it take to thaw a turkey?

Table of Thawing Times for Turkey:

Refrigerator Time Cold Water Time
Frozen Turkey 5-10 lbs.  1-2 Days 2-5 Hours
Frozen Turkey 10-15 lbs.  2-3 Days 5-7 Hours
Frozen Turkey 15-20 lbs.  3-5 Days 7-10 Hours
Frozen Turkey 20-25 lbs.  5-6 Days 10-12 Hours
Frozen Turkey 25-30 lbs.  6-7 Days 12-15 Hours
Frozen Turkey 30-35 lbs.  7-9 Days 15-17 Hours

** After thawing your turkey, be sure to remove the internal organs and the neck from both ends open ends of the turkey before stuffing or baking. These parts can be boiled in water to make a gravy base, but should not be baked inside the bird. **

For Additional Information

For more information on turkeys and an exact thawing time calculator, visit Butterball.

To find out how long turkey lasts, visit our turkey page.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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