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How To Defrost a Whole Pasture-Raised Turkey?

How To Defrost a Whole Pasture-Raised Turkey?

With the holidays approaching, no one wants to wake up to a partially frozen turkey. So let’s avoid that situation altogether, with this easy how-to guide to defrost a whole pasture-raised turkey! 

Thaw in the Fridge


The best way to thaw, is in the fridge for a consistent temperature. Letting your turkey thaw in the fridge is the easiest method and it’s totally hands off but it does take some time.

  1. Place the turkey in a roasting pan or any kind of pan. This ensures the pan will catch any juices that may drip from the packaging. As the turkey thaws, the juices could potentially cross-contaminate other foods in your fridge.
  2. Thawing time will vary based on the turkey weight. Please refer to the chart below! In general, allow about 1 day for each 4 to 5 pounds of weight.
  3. So start making that plan and make room in the fridge.


Thawing Times for a Whole Turkey in the Fridge
12 to 16lbs 3 to 4 days
16 to 20lbs 4 to 5 days
*Allow about 1 day for each 4 to 5 pounds of turkey

Thaw in Cold Water


If you're running short on time, the faster way is to thaw in cold water. Fully submerge the turkey in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes until fully defrosted. It’s that simple.

  1. Place the turkey in a large bucket or pot. Submerge the whole frozen turkey in cold water and leave wrapped in its packaging. However, make sure the packaging is tightly sealed. If not, put the turkey in a large sealed plastic bag to defrost.
  2. Add cold water only to defrost the turkey. Do not add warm or hot water to speed up thawing! This could potentially put the turkey within the temperature “Danger Zone” between 40F to 140F for longer than is safe.
  3. Change cold water every 30 minutes. Plan about 30 minutes for every pound of turkey.


Thawing Times for a Whole Turkey in Cold Water
12 to 16lbs 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20lbs 8 to 10 hours
*Allow about 30 minutes for every pound of turkey

What if your Pasture-Raised Turkey is Partially Thawed?

If you used the fridge method but realized in the morning the turkey is still partially frozen, try the cold water method. You can use the same steps above to finish the thawing process!


*Please note all facts are based on the USDA guidelines for safe poultry cooking. For more information on proper thawing please visit here.

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