How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving

During the Thanksgiving turkey rush, many farmers, including the ones we work with, begin preparing for the holiday weeks in advance, freezing turkeys to ensure that they’re perfectly fresh when they get to you. Here's how to easily thaw your turkey in time for your big meal. (Don’t attempt to cook a frozen turkey, unless you want a bird with overcooked skin and a still-raw interior.)

There are two recommended methods, and the one you choose depends largely on how much time you have. Option 1 is the easiest, but takes longer; Option 2 will save time but is slightly more labor-intensive. Either way, never thaw your bird on the countertop – room temperature raw turkey can attract harmful bacteria.

Option 1: Refrigerator Thawing

Place the turkey on a tray in the bottom of the refrigerator, breast side up. Allow at least one day of thawing for every 4 lbs. of turkey. Therefore, a 12-lb. turkey will take about 3 days to fully defrost – you can calculate the total turkey-to-time ratio here.

Option 2: Cold Water Thawing

Place the turkey in a cooler or tub large enough to cover it completely with cold water, breast side down. Change the water every 30-60 minutes to keep the turkey chilled, and plan on one pound thawing every 30 minutes. Therefore, a 12-lb. turkey will take about 6 hours to fully defrost – again, you can calculate the total turkey-to-time ratio here.


If you ordered our Herb-Roasted Turkey for your Thanksgiving feast, we'll be starting the defrosting process for you so that your bird will arrive partially defrosted. Depending on timing, you can choose either thawing option above to complete the process. To determine when your bird is ready, feel inside the cavity and poke the thicker parts of the bird with a fork to ensure there aren’t any ice crystals.

Check out our complete Thanksgiving offerings here, and learn how to perfectly time your showstopper meal right this way.