What to do when you forget to defrost your turkey


You still can make a turkey, even if you forget to defrost it.


There have been several years where I bought a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving dinner… and then forgot to defrost it. It typically takes a few days for a frozen turkey to defrost in the fridge, but if you don’t have time for that, you can defrost it in a few hours with this method.

Give your turkey a soak

A water bath can get you a roasting ready turkey. 

  1. Leave the turkey in it’s wrapper. 
  2. Place it in a sterilized tub, large sink or bathtub. 
  3. Cover it completely with cold water. Let the turkey sit until it defrosts. 
  4. Be sure to refill the sink or tub with cold water every 30 minutes to prevent bacteria growth, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
  5. When it’s done, just remove it from the water and pat it dry with paper towels. Be sure not to let the turkey water drip around the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination.  

Start early

You’ll need 30 minutes of defrosting time for every pound of turkey. So, a typical 15 pounder will take around 7.5 hours to defrost. If you get started first thing Thanksgiving morning, you can have your turkey defrosted and ready to bake by noon, giving you just enough time to finish before dinner.

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