How do I thaw my whole turkey?

Every year around the holidays, it’s time to start thinking about “The Big Thaw” and when to pull your KOL Foods turkey out of the freezer. Make sure to leave yourself sufficient cooking time as well. For more info on cooking your KOL Foods whole turkey, check out our page on pasture-raised poultry cooking tips here

We recommend either thawing your turkey in the refrigerator or using the cold water method. We do not advise keeping your turkey out on the counter or in any other non-temperature controlled environment. This can lead to uneven thawing and some of the meat reaching the “danger zone” temperatures in which food-borne pathogens thrive. 

For refrigerator thawing, estimate about 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey you have. Make sure to thaw your turkey in a container on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator so that any juices don’t drip onto other foods. We highly recommend during the last few hours of thawing that you remove your turkey from its bag and thoroughly dry it. This will help the skin crisp up beautifully when you roast it or fry it. We recommend the following thawing times in the refrigerator based on the weight of your bird:

  • 12 pounds or less — 1 to 3 days
  • 12 to 16 pounds — 3 to 4 days
  • 16 to 20 pounds — 4 to 5 days
  • 20 to 24 pounds —5 to 6 days

Turkeys can also be thawed with the cold water method of thawing. We recommend about 30 minutes per pound, and changing the water every 30 minutes. For more information on the cold water method, see our FAQ’s here. Turkeys thawed with this method should be cooked immediately. We recommend the following thawing times for the cold water method based on the weight of your bird:

  • 4 to 12 pounds — 2 to 6 hours
  • 12 to 16 pounds — 6 to 8 hours
  • 16 to 20 pounds — 8 to 10 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds — 10 to 12 hours

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