How to Quickly Thaw a Turkey

How to Quickly Thaw a Turkey
(Last Updated On: November 20, 2016)

How to Quickly Thaw a Turkey

How to Quickly Thaw a Turkey

So we are now a day before the big day. Is your turkey still a solid block? Under no circumstance do you want to place a frozen turkey in the oven. So if you are in a hurry there is something you can do. But first I must tell you that NEVER, EVER, EVER leave a turkey to thaw at room temperature. This is a good way to miss those great Black Friday sales because you are too busy visiting your toilet. A must safer option is the one Alton Brown (of Good Eats) recommends. Take your frozen turkey, place it into a 5 gallon bucket, full of cold water. Your turkey should defrost (approximately) at a rate of 2 pounds every 1 hour. If you are concerned let it go an extra hour. Sometimes I find that I think it’s fully defrosting, only to find a little ice in the cavity.

Approximate Defrosting Times

Turkey Size Time
10 pounds 5 hours
11 pounds 5 1/2 hours
12 pounds 6 hours
13 pounds 6 1/2 hours
14 pounds 7 hours
15 pounds 7 1/2 hours
16 pounds 8 hours
17 pounds 8 1/2 hours
18 pounds 9 hours
19 pounds 9 1/2 hours
20 pounds 10 hours
21 pounds 10 1/2 hours
22 pounds 11 hours

How to Quickly Thaw a Turkey

If Your Turkey Floats…
Every turkey I placed in a 5 gallon bucket has wanted to float on me. All you need to do is weigh it down. Use a pot or a clean brick.

Why this Method is Better
This method is faster than doing it in the fridge and safer than doing it at room temperature. What happens when you do this in the process of conduction. The turkey and the water want to be at the same temperature. The outer part of the turkey will defrost before the inner part, so it’s important to always keep the whole turkey below 40 degrees, so bacteria doesn’t show up. This is why defrosting at room temperature is such a no-no.

Some final notes: Make sure when you do this to keep the turkey in it’s packaging as well as to change the water every 3 hours. It’s easiest to do this in a bath tub where it will be easier to change the water, then trying to get water into a 5 gallon bucket in your kitchen sink.

Also check out these other Thanksgiving-related topics: What is a Self-Basted Turkey?, Essential Thanksgiving Kitchen Tools, Pop-Up Timers, Pumpkin Recipes, Why Should I Brine my Turkey?.

2 Replies to “How to Quickly Thaw a Turkey”

  1. My turkey packaging has a tiny hole. Can I still use this method?

  2. Eric Samuelson says:

    Do you think water could get in the hole? You could find a way to seal the hole or you could thaw the turkey and brine it at the same time. Add salt and other seasonings to the water and take the turkey out of the packaging. Be sure the water stay cold, should have ice in it all times. Check out this video showing you how if you are interest in brining.

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