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This Chart Shows You How Long You Need To Thaw Your Turkey

Can you believe it? It’s Thanksgiving next week and if you haven’t already, now is the time to get those meals planned!

If you are planning the traditional Thanksgiving feast and including a turkey, you need to know exactly how long you have to thaw out that turkey or else, turkey day won’t happen this year!

I don’t know about you, but I always tend to forget how long a turkey takes to thaw especially because it’s different depending on the amount of weight the turkey is.

How to Thaw A Turkey

Thawing a turkey is based on the weight so, save those tags when you purchase your turkey and you’ll easily know how much that delicious bird weighs.

Once you know the weight, you can use the chart below to determine what day you need to set your turkey into the fridge to have it thaw.

Turkey WeightRefrigeratorCold Water
4 lbs.1 Day Before2 Hours
8 lbs.2 Days Before4 Hours
12 lbs.3 Days Before6 Hours
16 lbs.4 Days Before8 Hours
20 lbs.5 Days Before10 Hours
24 lbs.6 Days Before12 Hours

Now, if that seems like a lot to remember, a good rule of thumb is: Defrost the turkey for approximately 24 hours for every four pounds.

I also made a simplified version of the thawing chart for you below (feel free to save it to your phone or computer).

How to Thaw Turkey in the Refrigerator

The best way to thaw a turkey safely is in the refrigerator over the recommended days shown above.

It’s the ideal way to keep your turkey at safe temperatures during the entire thawing process. In fact, the USDA says you can re-freeze your turkey after defrosting it this way since it’s so safe!

Simply place your turkey (in its original packaging) in the refrigerator on a large platter or in a pan to catch any drippings.

How to Thaw Turkey in Cold Water

If you are short on time, you can use the cold water method. It takes as little as 30 minutes per pound. That means that 20-pound turkey will be ready to cook in ten hours instead of five days!

Simply Place the turkey (in its original packaging) in a leak-proof plastic bag. Submerge the wrapped turkey under cold water and change the water every 30 minutes for however long your turkey needs. Then proceed with baking!

I sure hope this helps you have the perfect turkey this Thanksgiving and if you’re looking for a delicious turkey recipe, check out this Bacon Wrapped Turkey!