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Defrost a Turkey - Water Method

Water Will Defrost a Turkey Much Quicker Than a Refrigerator

To defrost a turkey in the refrigerator is the most common method of thawing, it has the disadvantage of being slow because air is not the best medium to transfer heat.


Placing your turkey in water will greatly accelerate the thawing process.It could take as long as 4 to 5 days to defrost a turkey in a refrigerator, by using the cold water method the turkey can be ready to cook in as little as 9 hours. turkey thawing in water

Oh, that is important COLD WATER.

Some people feel that warm or hot water will speed up the thawing process even more. It will. But it will also speed up the growth of bacteria that can send you and all of your guests to the hospital.

If warm water is used the exterior of the turkey warms to a temperature that is in the danger zone (between 40 to 140 F.)

All of the sleeping bugs are awakened and they begin to multiply even while the interior of the meat is still frozen.

So ONLY USE COLD WATER – water with ice floating in it to defrost a turkey.

You can fill your sink with water and ice and place your turkey in the water (still in its original wrapper) breast down.  Your turkey will float in the water. That is okay and as long as the turkey is breast side down you do not need to submerge the bird with a weight.

Check on your turkey often to make sure that your sink is full of water with ice. Many sinks have slow leaks so be sure that your turkey does not sit in a dry sink.

If you will be using your sink for the preparation of the rest of the meal, the turkey can also be thawed in a cooler filled with cold water.

Whether you use a cooler or the sink change the water every 30 minutes. And, after your turkey is finished defrosting be sure to disinfect your sink or cooler.

Look at the table below and you will notice a pattern.

To determine the number of hours that it will take to defrost your turkey in cold water just divide the weight in pounds by 2 and that is about how many hours it will take.

Defrost a Turkey In Water Weight of Turkey Defrosting Time in Cold Water




6 - 8 pounds

(2.5 - 3.5 kg)

3 - 4 hours

10 - 12 pounds

(4.5 - 5.5 kg)

5 - 6 hours

14 - 18 pounds

(6.5 - 8 kg)

7 - 9 hours

18 pounds+

(8 + kg)

Add an hour for each 2 pounds

9 hours +

Other Turkey Thawing Methods

Thaw Turkey in Refrigerator

Thaw Turkey in Microwave

Cook Turkey without Thawing

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