Help! How to Quickly Thaw a Turkey?

Sep 16, 2013
E. Brandy

thawing turkey quicklyQuestion: “Every year I face the same situation: I’m too late for preparing the turkey and I end up with an half frozen bird in my oven and a real mess to cook it properly. Is there any safe way to thaw a turkey quickly? Is it safe to thaw a turkey on the counter? I read a lot of things, often with lots of contradictions, but what is the fastest and safest way to thaw a turkey?”
Sent by  Sonia

Editor: Sadly, there is no magic for thawing a turkey quickly. Considering the size of the bird and the bacteria multiplication, we aim at keeping a sufficient temperature to thaw the turkey, while controlling the bacteria proliferation. If you have a few days to spare, the best method is the refrigerator. Thawing the turkey in the refrigerator can be handy because you can leave it there until it’s ready to cook — just don’t leave it in its thawed state for more than a day. You need to keep the turkey in its original wrapping and then put it in a large pan to collect the moisture. Allow 24 hours of thawing time for every 5 pounds (2kg) of turkey.

If you don’t have that much time left, thawing a turkey in cold water is a good alternative. Immerse your packaged turkey in ice-cold water and change the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. Don’t try shortcuts like using warm water: It will encourage bacteria proliferation, thus increasing the risk of food poisoning. Allow about 30 minutes of thawing time per pound (400g).

(Photo credit: Douglas Sprot)

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