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How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

It's only a matter of time

thawing time

refrigerator thaw
cold water thaw

Thawing a whole turkey in the refrigerator is recommended. If short on time, you may thaw the turkey in cold water in the original packaging, making sure the water is changed every 30 minutes to keep the turkey surface cold.

Refrigerator Thawing

  • Thaw turkey in unopened packaging in a pan in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf.
  • Allow approximately 4 hours per pound to thaw.

Refrigerator Turkey Thawing Time

  •   8 to 12 pounds: 2 days
  • 12 to 16 pounds: 3 days
  • 16 to 20 pounds: 4 days
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 5 days

Cold Water Thawing

  • Leave turkey in unopened packaging. Cover completely with cold water.
  • Change water every 30 minutes to keep turkey surface cold.
  • Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw.

Cold Water Turkey Thawing Time

  • 8 to 12 pounds: 4 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

After thawed, prepare or refreeze turkey within 3 days.

See how to cook a whole thawed turkey here

Find more whole turkey basics here

Forgot to thaw your turkey?  No problem.  Find OVEN READY™ Turkey in your grocers freezer.  FROM FREEZER TO OVEN TO PERFECT®  See How to Cook a  OVEN READY ™Turkey for directions.