Home | Turkey | Thawing


Thawing Your Turkey

There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven.

In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
4 to 5 lbs 24 hours
4 to 12 lbs 1 - 3 days
12 to 16 lbs 3 - 4 days
16 to 20 lbs 4 - 5 days
20 to 24 lbs 5 - 6 days

Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.

In Cold Water (allow approx 30 min. per lb)
4 to 12 lbs 2 - 6 hours
12 to 16 lbs 6 - 8 hours
16 to 20 lbs 8 - 10 hours
20 to 24 lbs 10 - 12 hours

Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

In the Microwave Oven

* Check your owner's manual for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound, and power level to use for thawing.
* Remove all outside wrapping.
* Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak.
* Cook your turkey immediately. Do not refreeze or refrigerate your turkey after thawing in the microwave oven.

REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.


  1. See also:
  2. How long until Thanksgiving countdown clock
  3. Thanksgiving Recipes