How Long Does It Take To Thaw A Turkey In The Refrigerator?

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If you want to cook a turkey for the next big family gathering, you'll need to plan so you have enough time to thaw it out. A frozen turkey can take up to 24 hours to thaw in the refrigerator, so be sure to take that into account when you're making your plans.

There are various factors to know when thawing a turkey, whether in the fridge or cold water. In this article, we'll go over how long it takes to thaw a turkey, as well as other considerations you need to think about in the process.

How to Thaw Frozen Turkey | Allrecipes

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Frozen turkey vs. fresh turkey- which is better?

When it comes to getting your turkey, you have two main choices: fresh or frozen. But which is better? It depends on your preferences and needs. Here's a look at the pros and cons of each type of turkey to help you make your decision:

Frozen Turkey:


  • You can buy a frozen turkey well in advance of the day you want to cook it, which can be helpful if you're short on time or want to take advantage of early-bird sales on special occasions.
  • Frozen turkeys are typically less expensive than fresh turkeys.


  • It takes significantly longer to thaw a frozen turkey, so you need to plan.
  • If not thawed properly, frozen turkeys can become unsafe to eat.

Fresh Turkey:


  • Fresh turkeys haven't been stored in a freezer, so they tend to be juicier and more flavorful.
  • You don't have to worry about thawing a fresh turkey since it's already thawed and ready to cook.


  • Fresh turkeys are generally more expensive than frozen turkeys.
  • Because fresh turkeys haven't been frozen, they have a shorter shelf life and must be bought closer to the day you want to eat them. This can be inconvenient if you're trying to do all your holiday shopping early.

If you're trying to decide between a frozen turkey or a fresh turkey, consider your needs and preferences. If you want a juicier, more flavorful bird, go with a fresh turkey. But if you're worried about cost or don't have time to buy the turkey just before the day you want to eat it, go with the frozen option. Whichever type of turkey you choose, make sure it's properly cooked before serving to avoid food poisoning.

Storing a frozen turkey

Some might consider the issue of the freezer vs deep freezer when trying to decide how to store their turkey. If space is an issue, you don't have to worry about storing a frozen turkey in the fridge; it will keep in the freezer for up to several months. Make sure to follow the expiration date on the package, though, as frozen turkeys can lose their flavor and quality over time. If you have a deep freezer, your turkey will keep even longer.

Thawing a frozen turkey

If you've decided to go with a frozen turkey, you'll need to make sure it's properly thawed before cooking. The safest way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator; place the frozen turkey in a pan or on a plate (to catch any drips) and allow it to thaw slowly over several days. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed – both inside and out – before cooking. Do not cook a frozen turkey, as this can lead to food poisoning.

If you're short on time, you can also thaw a turkey in cold water. This method is faster than thawing in the fridge, but it's important to keep the turkey submerged in cold water at all times. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold, and cook the turkey immediately after it's thawed. Do not refreeze a turkey that has been thawed in water.

Cooking a turkey

Once your turkey is thawed (if necessary), it's time to start cooking. The best way to cook a turkey is by roasting it in the oven. First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, place the turkey in a roasting pan and season it as desired. Roast the turkey for about 15 minutes per pound, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute.

Storing your turkey after cooking

Leftover turkey can be stored in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to four months. If stored in the fridge, make sure to wrap the turkey tightly so that it doesn't dry out. For longer storage in the freezer, consider portioning out the turkey into smaller pieces so that it's easier to thaw and reheat later on.

The best refrigerator brands might have a bigger space to store a turkey or other leftovers. If you have a lot of food to store, consider investing in a quality fridge that will keep your food fresh for longer.

How to Safely Thaw a Turkey—or Cook One Straight From the Freezer | Epicurious

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Final thoughts on how long does it take to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator

In conclusion, the answer to how long it takes to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator really depends on the size of your turkey. A small turkey will take about 24 hours to thaw, while a large turkey can take up to several days. If you plan on cooking your turkey within the next few days, it's best to start thawing it in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

If you need to speed up the process, you can also thaw your turkey in cold water. Just be sure to change the water every 30 minutes and cook your turkey immediately after it's thawed.

No matter which method you choose, always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw poultry. And of course, make sure your turkey is cooked all the way through before serving.

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin is a household and appliance enthusiast and loves to follow the latest trends in kitchen and house decoration. He also loves to walk the isles of Home Depot and Lowes to review products and materials in person. Before joining Kitchen Infinity, Kevin owned a handyman company.

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