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Nov 15, 2006 08:43 PM

Thawing a Turkey in the Fridge

I noticed that almost every "official" how-to Turkey site tells you that a 12 lb bird thaws in roughly three days in the fridge. I have done this for a few years now and it takes a week to get thawed enough to take the marinade (which I do for a couple of days)

Wondering if anyone out there has ever successfully thawed a 12 lb bird in three days? Seems this misinformation would lead to a lot of Turkey day disasters. I have checked my turkeys after three days and it they are still solid as a rock at that point.

Just curious.

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  1. I too have found that they take forever in the refrigerator. I have a sub zero which I know is part of the problem because mine is set at 38 degrees - I think it might take a month to thaw a turkey in mine. I don't try anymore. I have often thought the 3 days might be left from when refrigerators weren't so cold?

    My solution - I buy my turkey on Tuesday - not frozen and put it in the refrigerator.

    1. Yes, I too have found frozen turkeys never defrost fully in the fridge. I've left them in the fridge for seven days, and open them up to find the cavity is still frozen, along with the neck and giblets. What I've done is take it out the day before, remove the neck, etc. (sometimes I have to run hot water through it to loosen them), and put the turkey back in the fridge. The empty cavity seems to help it thaw. (I'm sure some nutrionists are shuddering, but no one has ever gotten sick!)

      Meanwhile, I simmer the neck and sliced up giblets with some sliced onion and celery. Skim the foam, strain through cheesecloth, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, take off the fat, heat gently, and voila - the perfect basting liquid! When the turkey's done, you have the most wonderful base for your gravy.

      1. I haven't bought a frozen bird in decades, at first because of the defrosting problem but then because "fresh" birds are so much better. "Fresh" just means they aren't deep frozen, but can be chilled down to 26 degrees. With the availability of fresh turkey all year round why buy frozen?

        6 Replies
        1. re: JMF

          Yeah, but when you get the free turkey promotion, I tend to take advantage of it. The free ones at my supermarket are Marval brand and after soaking the breast meat for 2-3 days in -- and this may seem wierd -- club soda, half a bottle of white wine, and 1/4 bottle of sherry, along with garlic, onions, bay leaf and salt, it comes out pretty darn good. I also roast it for the first hour breast side down on a bed of celery (sans stuffing because the extra cooking time dries out the breast IMHO).

          After 7 days I can usually get the giblets out of the cavity. After soaking in booze it gets completely thawed in there.

          However, I was wondering why this three day myth persists? It is total BS propagated by the germ phobes I think. I've never gotten sick from thawing the bird for a week.

          1. re: jcmods

            You know those free frozen turkeys... are usually leftovers from the year before.

            1. re: JMF

              OOPS- I had three in my freezer from last year- and we only buy fresh- so I gave them to a charity about two months ago. Hope they are ok. I told them they were a year old- but from your post, seems like they are two years old.

          2. re: JMF

            I always buy a Kosher turkey. I've bought both fresh and frozen and I honestly can't tell the difference. About a month or six weeks before Thanksgiving, frozen Kosher turkeys are often on sale for less than half the price I'd have to pay a month later. But even more important to me is that a month before Thanksgiving I can nearly always find a 12- or 13-pound bird. By Thanksgiving, the only birds I can find are a minimum of 16 pounds, often a good deal more.

            1. re: JoanN

              Well there will be many smaller birds available this year, but the price is up a bit.


              1. re: JMF

                Very interesting. I hadn't heard that. Thanks for posting.

          3. Allow 5 hours per pound to defrost a turkey in the fridge. I got this tip from Anthony Dias Blue in his book Thanksgiving Dinner and it has never failed me. A 15/lb turkey, for example, would take 75 hours (3 days, 3 hours) to defrost. If you need to defrost more quickly, place it still wrapped in the sink covered with cold water. Change the water frequently and allow about 30 minutes per pound. Refrigerate immediately and it will be ready for cooking the next day.

            1. I took my 12-pound turkey out of the freezer and into the fridge on a recent Wednesday night and cooked it Saturday afternoon with no problem. It was still a bit icy on the inside as I scraped out the innards, but in the process of rinsing it that was all fine. Bird cooked perfectly.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Covert Ops

                Maybe my fridge is cold but it is not like my milk or water freeze up. I've been thawing that turkey since Tuesday night and this morning it was still hard as a rock.