Oh Noes, the Turkey is Frozen!

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Dear ladies,

Please forgive my lack of experience, but I am staring down a rock solid 25 pounder and I MUST thaw it by Wednesday night. My mother in law is cooking it her special way which is a slow overnight roast. So, lead me! I just found out that usually, you thaw for 24 hours per every 5 lbs. and I am now officially 4 days late. What should I do? Help help help!!!

Thanks to you!

-Unfreeze Me

Heather says:

Do you have a cooler & a bathtub at your disposal?

Go ahead and put the turkey in your fridge. Very early tomorrow morning put the turkey in the cooler in the tub and fill with cool water. Change the water every 30 minutes (or you can drip the water into it the cooler so it overflows slowly into the tub). Your turkey will be fully thawed in 12 and 1/2 hours. 🙂

That works out to 30 minutes a pound, as recommended by the USDA. If you are thawing your turkey on Wednesday it is fine to place the thawed bird in the fridge until Thursday morning.

Absolutely make sure the turkey is in its original plastic wrapping, you need it to be watertight or the tissues will absorb the water and you’ll have soggy meat. Nasty.

Good luck!

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8 thoughts on “Oh Noes, the Turkey is Frozen!”

  1. I was about to post the exact same advice. Then I read all of the post. It does work and the bird will be fine. I did that once with three frozen turkeys and they all thawed in plenty of time. And were really clean to boot. I used the bathtub since we’d just moved into the house and it hadn’t been used yet.

  2. I’ve also done a speed thaw with the cooler. Now, even when I have purchased “fresh” turkeys, I now check them 24 hours in advance. Last year’s was fresh was somewhat frozen inside, and I thawed it in my sink the morning of Thanksgiving. Luckily I have a really big kitchen sink.

  3. I had to speed thaw a turkey once, luckly the divider in my kitchen sink was lower then the counter lvl, so the turkey still wrapped in plastic went in one sink with the stopper in the drain, we removed the stopper from the other sink filled the sink with the turkey with water, and then left the faucet on a bit — the water ‘over-flowed’ from one sink to the other and not out on the counter — thus ‘changing’ the water every half hour — over night!

    The next morning I had a thawed out turkey, no water changing required.

  4. it’s hard to tell where there might be nicks and tears in the original wrapping, so it can pay to go ahead and put the turkey in a food grade plastic bag to begin with. (Note: garbage bags are not food grade and can leach chemicals) I beleive the superlarge zip type bags are food grade.

    For future reference: Assuming that you buy an average 20-30 lb bird anytime from the Thursday through Sunday night before, it never needs to see your freezer. Put it directly into the refrigerator when you bring it home. At the larger end of the range and bought on Sunday, the bag o’ giblets and the inside of the bird may still have some ice crystally bits on Thursday morning. If you are roasting unstuffed (my family’s preference) this should not matter.

    If you are in the habit of pre-purchasing or buying particularly small or large birds, then you need to do the 5 lbs/1 day math. But I think most of us fall into that size and time range that can avoid ever having to worry about thawing by just bringing it home and sticking it in the refrigerator as a matter of habit.

    The only time I brought a turkey home and put it in my freezer was when I found particularly large ones on sale in August for 20 cents a pound. I got a 45 lb bird, and it was pretty much the ONLY thing in my kitchen freezer for the next3 and a half months!

  5. 45 pounds!!?? What kind of pan did you pit it in? How did it fit in the oven?

    I’ve got a 24 pounder this year and it’s about all I can handle. Next year- two 13-15 pounders instead.

  6. CJ, if you cook two turkeys, make sure you cook them at the right temperature for them both to be in the oven at the same time. I am not sure of the math, maybe Ivy does, but you want to be sure they both get done, but not over done.
    Makes you wish you had one of those ovens like the Brady Bunch had.
    I am not cooking this year, but if I were, I’d do a ham. Dkids and their Dfriends love ham. I cooked a 12 pound ham Monday night and the 4 of them ate almost all of it. Did my momma’s heart good to see teenagers eating like that. Couldn’t afford that every night, but it was nice to see them eating good that night.

  7. I was watching Alton Brown’s newest Good Eats Thanksgiving special the other day and he had this genius way for the water bath thawing method that didn’t use up a lot of water. Turkey in a water filled cooler with a spigot. Water drains out of a spigot into the sink. In the sink is a water pump like those used in those decorative garden fountains. Pump circulates water from the sink back into the cooler. Some adjustment to the spigot or pump may need to be done to make sure the volume flowing out of the cooler spigot matches the volume of water moved by the pump.

    I thought it was a pretty clever idea, and pumps are relatively cheap.

  8. I ALWAYS do the water-bath method, because I can never get my turkey any sooner than a couple of days before the holiday. I’ve come to get used to the “30 minute relay” drill of soaking, changing water, soaking… all day long on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving! Fortunately I only have to cook for a very small family (just me and my husband, maybe my brother and sister)– and I have enough leftovers to share with my buddies for “Friendsgiving” on the weekend. Thus, my birds are only about 15 pounds or so. That means just one 8-hour day of ‘turkey relay’! I have NEVER had an issue with a tainted turkey, and even if the thing is still a little frozen after all that, I just adjust the cooking time. That’s why God made meat thermometers, after all. 😉


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