Thawing Times For A Turkey
Turkey Size (lbs.) Refrigerator (Days) Cold Water (Hours)
8-12 1-2 4-6
12-16 2-3 6-8
16-20 3-4 8-10
20-24 4-5 10-12
Placing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator is the only reliable and safe method for thawing and it is the only method that is recommended. The turkey should be kept in its original wrapper during the thawing process and it should be placed on a platter to catch any juices that may leak from the package.
Thawing a frozen turkey in cold water is another defrosting method that has been used for years, but with increased awareness of illness due to bacterial growth, it is generally NOT recommended.
Some people have used a microwave oven for thawing meat, it is downright unsafe for thawing poultry.
If the original wrapper has any punctures or tears in it, the turkey should be placed in another plastic bag and sealed. The turkey should be placed breast side down and it should be completely covered with water. The water must be changed every 30 minutes.
Cold water thawing is much faster than thawing in the refrigerator 10 times faster, but it can be annoying having to change the water every 30 minutes, especially when thawing a large turkey.