Step-by-step instructions on how to thaw a turkey quickly in the sink using water. You need 30 minutes per pound of turkey to thaw it.
It’s time to thaw that turkey! Whether you’re cooking for Thanksgiving dinner or just because you’re craving turkey—we have easy step-by-step instructions to ensure your turkey is completely thawed and ready to cook. Make sure you avoid waiting until Thanksgiving morning to thaw your turkey as depending on the size of the turkey, you might not have enough time to properly thaw your bird.
Why You’ll Love this Method
This thawing method can be customized to whatever size whole turkey you have and takes minimal prep time. I use this method every Thanksgiving to thaw my turkey the day before. It’s perfect for those of you who don’t end up getting fresh turkeys.
How long does it take to thaw a turkey in water?
It depends on the turkey, but with the cold water method, you will need about 30 minutes of thaw time per pound of turkey. So if you have a 12-pound turkey, you will need to spend 6 hours thawing the bird.
How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey in Water
All you need to thaw your turkey is a kitchen sink and running water to thaw your turkey using the cold water method.
Grab your frozen turkey, and make sure to leave it in its original package, and place it in your kitchen sink.
Next, run cold water over your turkey, filling the sink to fully submerge the turkey. The turkey needs to be fully submerged to ensure it thaws evenly.
(Tip: If your turkey keeps floating to the surface, you can grab a pot or bowl, fill it with water and place it on top of the turkey to hold it under. Putting the bowl inside a strainer prevents the bowl from tipping over!)
Keep the turkey in water for a half-hour per pound of turkey.
Every 30-minutes, add more water to keep the turkey fully submerged and the water chilled.
If you have a 10-pound bird, this method will take around 5 hours, so you might have to start early, depending on when you plan to serve dinner.
I recommend doing this the day before cooking to ensure your turkey will be thawed. Once you’re done with the thawing process, place it back in the refrigerator until the next day.
Can you thaw a turkey in cold water overnight?
No, it’s not safe to thaw turkey in water overnight. The water will drain from the sink or won’t be cold enough. Do this during the day when you are present to monitor and refill the water. You must keep the water cold to avoid bacteria growth. Your water should NOT drop to room temperature.
Why change the water when thawing a turkey?
The reason for changing the water while thawing a turkey is to prevent bacteria growth. The cold-water method for thawing a turkey can take hours. The safest way to thaw a turkey, according to food safety, is to switch the water out. This way, you will avoid the water dropping to room temperature, allowing for harmful bacteria growth on the raw meat.
If you want to avoid the risk of food poisoning, make sure to properly switch your water and ensure the turkey is completely thawed before cooking.
Are there other safe methods to thaw a frozen turkey?
While a frozen turkey is safe indefinitely, once the meat begins to thaw, bacteria will start to grow. Though there are a few different ways to safely thaw your bird for turkey day.
Among the safe ways to thaw a frozen bird, you can choose the cold-water method, leave it to thaw slowly in the fridge, or use a microwave oven. Refrigerator thawing is the most preferred method for achieving a defrosted turkey. But I know we don’t all have time for that.
If you really need to, you can safely thaw your turkey in the microwave, provided it fits. Don’t forget to remove the outside wrapping. Follow the instructions and use the defrost setting the entire time. You’ll probably need to allow for around 6 minutes per pound of turkey, depending on the power level of your microwave if you choose this method.
Do NOT attempt to defrost your turkey by setting it on the counter or outside (yes, people really do that!?). Really, avoid any method that isn’t the cold water, refrigerator, or microwave method.
Pro tip: Whatever method you choose to use, make sure you plan ahead in considering how many hours of that time and cook time you’ll need to fully prepare your turkey, plus some wiggle room just to be safe and avoid stressing out!
Now that you have your turkey ready to cook, try my Slow Cooker Turkey Breast recipe or Juicy Thanksgiving Turkey recipe for a delicious turkey dinner this Thanksgiving! And make sure to serve it with my Amish Potato Stuffing, Green Bean Salad and Pumpkin Roll!
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How to Thaw a Turkey in WaterPrint
- frozen turkey
- Place the turkey, in it’s original packaging, in your kitchen sink.
- Run cold water over the turkey, filling the sink to fully submerge the turkey. If your turkey keeps floating to the surface, you can grab a pot or bowl, fill it with water and place it on top of the turkey to hold it under. The turkey needs to be fully submerged to ensure it thaws evenly.
- Keep the turkey in water for 30 minutes per pound of turkey. Every 30-minutes, add more water to keep the turkey fully submerged and the water chilled.
- Cook immediately, or place the turkey in the refrigerator until the next day.