Can you defrost a turkey in 12 hours?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “can you defrost a turkey in 12 hours?” We will also discuss the different methods used for defrosting a turkey and which are the quickest and easiest methods to defrost a turkey.

Can you defrost a turkey in 12 hours?

Yes, a turkey can be defrosted in 12 hours depending on the size/weight of the turkey or based on the method used for defrosting a turkey. The best way to defrost a turkey is by using the refrigeration method. The time taken depends on the size/weight of the turkey.

For an average turkey weighing between 5 to 12 pounds, it takes about 1 to 3 days for the turkey to be fully defrosted using the refrigeration method. However, there are other defrosting methods that take less time. The different methods will be discussed further.

What are the ways to defrost a turkey?

There are 4 accepted ways to defrost a turkey:

  • In the refrigerator
  • In the microwave
  • With cold water and
  • Cooking process

What is the time taken for the turkey to thaw in the refrigerator?

The time required for the turkey to thaw completely depends on the weight of the turkey as mentioned above. Typically it takes about 24 hours for a turkey weighing 4 pounds. The safe way to thaw the turkey is to leave the wrapping on. Refrigeration thawing is the best method for the thawing of turkey and it is the most commonly used method.

Weight of TurkeyTime required for Thawing @ 5℃/41℉
Up to 12 lbs1-3 days
12-16 lbs3-4 days
16-20 lbs4-5 days
20-24 lbs5-6 days

What is the cold water method to defrost a turkey?

The cold water method of thawing the turkey is to immerse the entire turkey in a bowl of cold water. However, the water needs to be changed every half an hour. It takes 30 minutes for every pound of turkey to be thawed using this method which means it takes about 5 hours for a 10 lbs turkey to defrost.

This method is the quickest and the easiest method to incorporate while defrosting a turkey if you are in a hurry. The sink or the pot used should be cleaned thoroughly and later the surface should also be cleaned thoroughly after defrosting as the meat juices if not cleaned properly might cause illnesses.

What is the microwave method to defrost a turkey?

The microwave method is the one in which the turkey can be defrosted using the defrost setting in the microwave. In general, it takes about 6 minutes per pound of the turkey to be thawed. However, it is advised to remove all of the wrappings before popping the turkey into the microwave. 

Instead of thawing if the turkey is cooking then, you need to rest the turkey for a few minutes before resuming thawing. This method however is not feasible for large turkeys as the microwaves are not as big. It is recommended to cover the drumsticks and the tips of the wings with the help of a foil to avoid cooking. 

What is the cooking method to defrost a turkey?

The cooking method is the one in which the frozen turkey is used as-is for cooking. This method is not recommended as it takes a lot of time. It is proven that the turkey takes 50% more time to cook if not thawed. There are beliefs that this method is harmful, however, that is not true and it is perfectly safe to cook a frozen turkey.

How to know if the turkey is fully defrosted?

There are several ways in which you can know if the turkey is fully defrosted or not, they are:

  • Touch: In this method to check if the turkey is fully defrosted or not, you can insert your hand through the cavity of the turkey and check the inside of the breast bone as this is the denser part of the turkey. If it feels frozen then the turkey has not defrosted fully.
  • Wiggle/shake: The moveable parts like the legs and wings can be tried to wiggle or shake. If the wings/legs are immovable or do not shake/wiggle then the turkey is not fully defrosted and needs a couple of more hours before cooking.
  • Temperature/probe thermometer: A thermometer can be used to check if the turkey has been fully defrosted. The probe thermometer can be inserted in the thicker parts of the turkey like the breast or the leg and if the thermometer reads below 33.8°F then the turkey has not been fully defrosted.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “can you defrost a turkey in 12 hours?” We have also discussed the different methods used for defrosting a turkey and which are the quickest and easiest methods to defrost a turkey.

References

https://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/how-to-defrost-a-turkey/#:~:text=until%20cooking%20time.-,How%20long%20does%20it%20take%20to%20defrost%20a%20turkey%20in,to%20thaw%20in%20the%20sink.
https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-safely-thaw-a-turkey-225724
https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-not-to-thaw-a-frozen-turkey-996023
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-to-defrost-a-turkey

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.