Use code LOADIT4U for $10 off your first shoppable recipe order.

How To Thaw a Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving

Frozen turkeys are convenient, bought in advance, and ready to serve to a crowd...until it comes time for the big task of thawing those birds. Luckily, these easy defrosting methods will get you on track for an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner!
SideChef
Created from scratch in the SideChef Kitchen, where recipe inspiration and ingredient experimentation are a way of life.
GO TO BLOG
Love This Recipe?
SideChef
Created from scratch in the SideChef Kitchen, where recipe inspiration and ingredient experimentation are a way of life.
GO TO BLOG

Turkey Time

During the Thanksgiving turkey rush, many farmers, including the ones we work with, begin preparing for the holiday weeks in advance, freezing turkeys to ensure that they’re perfectly fresh when they get to you. Here's how to easily thaw your turkey in time for your big meal. (Don’t attempt to cook a frozen turkey, unless you want a bird with overcooked skin and a still-raw interior.)

Get to Thawing

There are two recommended methods, and the one you choose depends largely on how much time you have. Option 1 is the easiest, but takes longer; Option 2 will save time but is slightly more labor-intensive. Either way, never thaw your bird on the countertop! Room temperature raw turkey can attract harmful bacteria.

Option 1: Refrigerator Thawing

Place the turkey on a tray at the bottom of the refrigerator, breast side up. Allow at least one day of thawing for every 4 lbs. of turkey. Therefore, a 12-lb. turkey will take about 3 days to fully defrost.

Option 2: Cold Water Thawing

Place the turkey in a cooler or tub large enough to cover it completely with cold water, breast side down. Change the water every 30-60 minutes to keep the turkey chilled, and plan on one pound thawing every 30 minutes. Therefore, a 12-lb. turkey will take about 6 hours to fully defrost.

Smoking Gun

INTERMEDIATEKID-FRIENDLY
Smoked Turkey
How to BBQ Right

Once you try this smoked turkey recipe, you’ll never cook turkey any other way.

Bacon is Better

FUSIONTREE NUT-FREE
Bacon-Wrapped Turkey
Sumopocky

Are you ready to make this beautiful, juicy turkey? Don't feel daunted by the long list of ingredients; the steps are simple and the results are amazing!

Turkey in No-Time

FISH-FREEPROTEIN PACKED
Herb-Roasted Spatchcock Turkey and Gravy
Lauren Holdcroft at SideChef

By removing the backbone of the bird (spatchcocking) before you roast, you not only cut the roasting time in half and ensure perfectly cooked meat throughout the entire turkey, but that backbone and the drippings become the foundation for the best gravy you’ll ever have!

Sign up for Our Newsletter
Will be used in accordance with our PRIVACY POLICY.
TIPS & TRICKS
More American than Apple Pie
CULINARY PARTNER FEATURE
4 Professional Bloggers on their Supermom Powers
TRENDING
How To: Poke Bowls
CULINARY PARTNER FEATURE
Busy Mom Robin Deem of CaliGirl Cooking
WHAT TO READ THIS WEEK
Virtual Munch for Mother’s Day Brunch
LET'S GET PERSONAL
Spring Clean Your Ingredients
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Healthy Snack Hacks
LEARN COOK EAT
Three Reasons Why We are Excited about Walmart+
CELEBRATE, HOST, ENTERTAIN
Host a Game Day Party That Wins
TIPS & TRICKS
9 Healthy Baking Tips
FOOD & SUSTAINABILITY
6 Creative Ways to Reinvent Christmas Leftovers
CULTURE
Hanukkah: Latkes, Lights and Legends
TIPS & TRICKS
More American than Apple Pie
Make these delicious apple pies at home when you’re missing the taste of your favorite fast food dessert: the ever-present and decade-spanning McDonald's classic apple pie.
CULINARY PARTNER FEATURE
4 Professional Bloggers on their Supermom Powers
Motherhood is hard work, but the amazing moms of our Culinary Partner Network sure make it look easy!
TRENDING
How To: Poke Bowls
Poke bowls are a delicious, compact way to enjoy a burst of Hawaiian flavor. Packed with fresh fish, tons of veggies, and a sprinkling of savory toppings, they are super nutritious and easy to put together. Get ready to say aloha to your new favorite meal!
CULINARY PARTNER FEATURE
Busy Mom Robin Deem of CaliGirl Cooking
The food blogger and mom on how she got started and how she helps other busy moms find balance in their homes.
WHAT TO READ THIS WEEK
Virtual Munch for Mother’s Day Brunch
Sharing mom’s breakfast magic from near or far
LET'S GET PERSONAL
Spring Clean Your Ingredients
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Healthy Snack Hacks
When the school year or workweek gets busy, it’s tempting to rely on pre-packaged snacks that are easy to grab. With this in mind, we’ve created a list of healthy substitutions that all contain simple and accessible ingredients.
LEARN COOK EAT
Three Reasons Why We are Excited about Walmart+
One of our favorite grocers just released a service to make all of our lives easier and we couldn't be happier about it.
CELEBRATE, HOST, ENTERTAIN
Host a Game Day Party That Wins
Hosting can be stressful, especially when team pride is at stake. If you've got the duty this round, here are five easy tips to make it a smooth ride to victory!
TIPS & TRICKS
9 Healthy Baking Tips
Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or just a regular Joe looking for new ways to cut down on processed sugar and fat, here are some tips for enjoying those baked goodies with a clearer conscience and a happier waistline.
FOOD & SUSTAINABILITY
6 Creative Ways to Reinvent Christmas Leftovers
Even with a full house, holiday festivities are bound to leave some leftovers. Rather than eat the same thing for a week or let it go to waste, repurpose those classic Christmas dishes into new and improved meals!
CULTURE
Hanukkah: Latkes, Lights and Legends
A holiday where you eat fried food and dairy? L’chaim!
You're one smart cookie! 🍪
By using this site, you agree to the use of cookies by SideChef and our partners for analytics and personalized content. ACCEPT
SideChef: 18k Recipes, Meal Planner, Grocery List, Personalization
INSTALL APP
Make cooking easy
Discover personalized recipes, organize your meal plans, shop ingredients, and cook with confidence alongside our FREE, step-by-step cooking app.