Frozen Turkey? Here’s How To Defrost And Cook A Frozen Holiday Bird In Time For Thanksgiving Dinner

If you are trying to figure out how to defrost a frozen turkey in time for your Thanksgiving feast, you’re not alone. Frozen turkeys are a bargain this time of year, but if you purchased the holiday bird at the last minute, you may need some help speeding up the defrosting time before you pop it in the oven or turkey fryer.

According to Money Magazine, several major grocery chains are offering frozen turkey for less than 50 cents per pound in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Kroger is charging 49 cents a pound if you make an additional purchase of at least $20, and Meijer has their turkeys priced at 48 cents per pound if you spend $30 on other grocery items. Stop and Shop appears to have one of the best turkey deals of the holiday season — 39 cents a pound with the purchase of $30 or more.

With prices this low, it’s no wonder so many people are trying to figure out how to defrost and cook a turkey, especially shoppers who plan to buy their Thanksgiving dinner fixings just days before the feast.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, defrosting time depends on the size of the turkey your purchased. A 20 to 24-pound turkey can take between five and six days to thaw in your refrigerator, while a four to 12-pound bird takes about one to three days to defrost.

To speed up the process, you can place the turkey in a sink full of cold water. However, there are some food safety issues that come into play, so it’s important to follow thawing directions carefully. According to the USDA’s Food Safety website, you must leave the turkey in its original wrapper and change the water in your sink every 30 minutes.

If you opt for the cold water method of defrosting, it will take approximately 30 minutes per pound in cold water to get the job done. So, the frozen turkey you scored for less than 50 cents a pound should be ready to roast after soaking in the sink for 10-12 hours.

thaw frozen Thanksgiving turkey
Frozen turkey thawing times [Image by Shutterstock]

When the turkey is defrosted, you must cook it immediately. Whether you roast it in your oven or deep fry the bird in a turkey fryer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that you use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey is completely cooked before you serve. The internal temperature should be 165°F in the breast and 180°F in the thigh.

Butterball states that an 18-22 pound turkey should take between 3.5 to four hours to roast in a 325-degree oven (4.5 to five hours with stuffing), and a seven to 10-pound turkey takes approximately 2.5 to three hours to cook (2.75-3.5 hours stuffed).

Speed the cooking time by deep frying your turkey — this method takes just three to four minutes per pound. Keep in mind, it must be completely thawed, and Butterball recommends that you don’t cook a turkey using this method if it’s over 14 pounds.

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]