Thawing Your Pasture-Raised Turkey

Your pasture-raised Thanksgiving turkey will arrive frozen at your door. Learn more about how to thaw your bird and plan ahead for the big day!

Refrigerator Thawing

Note: 24 hours of defrosting time is needed for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird, so your large turkey (18 – 20+ pounds) will need to spend about 5 days in the refrigerator

1.Make sure that your refrigerator is at 40°F or colder & leave the turkey in its original wrapper

2. Place the bird on a tray or in a pan to collect any juices that leak out & keep it at the bottom of your fridge so that any leakage won’t contaminate anything below

3. Allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of frozen turkey

Cold Water Thawing

Note: It’s possible to safely thaw a frozen turkey in a sink full of cold water, but it won’t be easy. You need to allow 30 minutes of thawing time for every pound of frozen bird, and you MUST keep the water 40 F or colder the entire time

1. Monitor the temperature with an instant read thermometer, changing the water every half hour. The water must be colder than 40 F, if not, add ice to lower the temperature

2. Make sure the turkey remains completely submerged. If it floats (and it will), you’ll need to weigh it down with a heavy pot or pan – if your sink is too small, this method won’t work. Never thaw a turkey in hot water

Here’s a time chart to help you compare thawing times using the refrigerator and cold-water methods:

Turkey Weight Thawing Time
Thawing Time
(Cold Water)
Up to 12 lbs 1 to 3 days 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 lbs 3 to 4 days 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 lbs 4 to 5 days 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 lbs 5 to 6 days 10 to 12 hours



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