Defrosting a Turkey

Defrosting a Turkey
Wondering how to go about defrosting a turkey? These easy and apt methods will help you safely thaw your turkey the right way, without hampering its state, or affecting those who eat it.
Tastessence Staff
Keeping turkey, or any meat for that matter, out in the open to defrost, is an absolute no-no situation. You cannot leave meats out in the open, even if they are packaged, for defrosting, since bacteria can start growing rapidly. If temperatures drop to a point where it becomes an easy way for these to team up within the meat, it can prove to be harmful when eaten. It is important to understand what temperatures are ideal when defrosting a turkey, and to do so, is to understand how size matters during thaw time.

How to Defrost a Turkey

There are ways that turkey can be defrosted, and using either one of the three is fine, as long as you do it right.

Cold Water Method
This method requires one to dunk the turkey in cold water, per pound at a time, giving it a good 30 minutes at least to thaw. Wrap the turkey in a packaging that doesn't allow water to fill into the skin, making it bloat up with water content. You can keep it in its original wrap too. Immerse the turkey in cold water, making sure that it doesn't peek out from the water surface (use a plate or lid to keep it down). If you're using a bigger vessel to hold in more than a pound, you'll need to drain out the water, and replace it every 30 minutes. That is why it easier to start off with one pound. You need to then cook this immediately after it has completely undergone defrosting.

Refrigerator
This method is a common way among those who defrost turkey using their refrigerators. You need to keep space in the fridge for the turkey, and allow it thaw out 24 hours for every 5 pounds. The temperature should be set at 40 °F. Let it sit atop a surface, like a plate or tray, to avoid your fridge from being flooded with water.

Microwave Oven
You can use this method to defrost turkey, and you need to give it 6 minutes on low medium heat, per pound. You need to constantly rotate the turkey, to keep uniformity in check. Since this can lead to the turkey undergoing cooking once the thawing begins, it is important to cook it right away thereafter.

Time Taken to Defrost a Turkey

There are different time slots given to thawing turkey, depending on the size of the bird, and how you intend on defrosting what part. Here's how to go about doing just that.

Microwave Oven

When defrosting turkey using the microwave oven method, you need to check the instructions given on the packaging, since this works for small portions of turkey well, and cooks immediately right after it thaws. This may take 60 to 90 minutes to defrost in the oven, and requires that you follow thawing rules printed on the packaging, or just go by the refrigerator or cold water methods instead.

Cold Water:
  • 8-12 pounds: 4-6 hours
  • 12-16 pounds: 6-8 hours
  • 16-20 pounds: 8-10 hours
  • 20-24 pounds: 10-12 hours
Refrigerator:
  • 8-12 pounds: 1-2 days
  • 12-16 pounds: 2-3 days
  • 16-20 pounds: 3-4 days
  • 20-24 pounds 4-5 days
How to Defrost Turkey Breast

When cooking turkey breast, it is important to know how to first thaw it out during the initial stages of preparing the meat for cooking.

Cold Water:
  • Turkey giblets/parts: 2-2½ hours
  • Turkey breast: 4-8 hours
Refrigerator:
  • Turkey giblets/parts: 24 hours
  • Turkey breast: 1-2 days
Defrosting a turkey is a simple task, and doesn't require any special skills or knowledge, but only to bear in mind vital tips on how to defrost this meat, and in what conditions to subject to, by avoiding bacterial infestations. Just make sure you follow these simple rules, and you'll be doing just fine from there on. Stay safe!