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Turkey Talk: How to Thaw a Turkey

A few helpful tips on how to thaw a turkey:

  • In the Microwave: Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the size turkey that will fit into your oven, the minutes per pound, and the power level to use for thawing. Remove any outside wrapping and place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may drip. Cook immediately after thawing.
  • For Frozen Turkeys: Forget to thaw? It’s safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. Keep in mind that cooking will take at least 50 percent longer than with a fully thawed turkey.
  • About Refreezing: Decide not to cook? A turkey that has been safely thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen safely.

Turkey Thawing Chart:

Turkey Size:
In the Refrigerator:(approx. 24 hours to every 4-5 lbs).
In Cold Water:(approx. 30 minutes per pound)
4-12 lbs. 1-3 days 2-6 hours
12-16 lbs. 3-4 days 6-8 hours
16-20 lbs. 4-5 days 8-10 hours
20-24 lbs. 5-6 days 10-12 hours

Note – After thawing, poultry may be left in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before cooking.

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*All of this information has been taken from the USDA Food & Safety Inspection Services website.

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