How long does it take to thaw a turkey?

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According to the University of Illinois, the average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds. A 15-pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat. [1]

There is a simple calculation you can use to calculate the time. According to the USDA, the general rule for defrosting a turkey in the fridge is as follows: Allow for at least 24 hours for every four to five pounds. (FYI: This is specific to refrigerators at temperatures 40 degrees and below.) When using this method, place the turkey—still in its original packaging—in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet in case juices leak as it thaws. [2] So for example budget 3 full days of thawing in the fridge for an average 15-pound turkey (if you choose a bigger one like 20-pound, you need 4 full days). Keep the turkey wrapped, and occasionally check to see if the baking sheet or roasting pan needs to be drained.

The cold water method is a bit quicker if you’re short on time. It takes as little as 30 minutes per pound. That means that 20-pound turkey will be ready to cook in ten hours instead of five days! If you don’t have a few days, there is a shortcut (with a tiny caveat). In order to keep the turkey at a safe temperature, you’ll have to change out the water every 30 minutes. [3]

So how long does it take to thaw a turkey? Here is an easy-to-use chart to answer this.

Turkey WeightRefrigeratorCold Water
4-5 lbs1 day2 hours
8-10 lbs2 days4 hours
12-15 lbs3 days6 hours
16-20 lbs4 days8 hours
20-25 lbs5 days10 hours
24-30 lbs6 days12 hours
How long does it take to thaw a turkey?

According to reliable resources mentioned above it takes:

~ 3 days, 0 hours, 0 mins, 0 secs

* The above data is an average value.

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