How Long To Thaw A 15 Pound Turkey In The Refrigerator?

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A big day is fast approaching, maybe a thanksgiving dinner or a small party that deserves some wining and dining. As we all know, turkey are a MUST-HAVE on the table — it is always a massive hit at any gathering. 

You’re probably budgeting 15-pounds turkey for the occasion and you’re confused as to how long to thaw a 15 pound turkey in the refrigerator. Prepping even part of the recipe ahead of time will definitely help save you some time on the D-day — and that includes thawing that rock-hard frozen big bird in the fridge.

Basically, it will take up to 3 days to thaw a 15-pound turkey in a refrigerator set at about 40°F (5 degrees C).

In this article, we will tell you how we arrived at this calculation and how to thaw the bird nice and clean. So ensure you read to the end!

How Long To Thaw A 15 Pound Turkey In The Refrigerator

Thawing a frozen bird in the refrigerator takes a lot of time; it can take several days, depending on how big it is. Some might take up to 4 days. 

So here is the math:  

  • 5 pounds of turkey takes approximately 24 hours. Therefore a 15-pound turkey will take up to 3 days in a refrigerator set at about 40°F (5 degrees C).
  • Whereas, in cold water, it only takes 30 minutes per pound. But you must refresh the water every 30 minutes.
  • However, we don’t recommend thawing at room temperature because it is not safe.
  • There are higher chances that the bird is affected by the growth of dangerous bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
  • The ONLY safe way to defrost a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator.
  • Think about it defrosting only requires plenty of time, but you aren’t doing any work either.

Besides, you can just let it thaw while doing other home chores.

I’m going to teach three techniques on how you can thaw not only a 15-pound turkey in the refrigerator but just about any bird — SAFELY that WON’T potentially bring a ton of illness-causing bacteria to your happy table.

How To Thaw A 15 Pound Turkey In The Refrigerator

The three safe methods are slow, medium, and fast.

The reason we’re giving you all of these methods ascendingly is so you can choose the one that works best for you — whether you are a last-minute or plan-ahead cook.

1. The Slow Method

This tip is for defrosting in the fridge — nowhere else!

And to make this technique work, keep the turkey in its original wrapping. 

Whether you are buying from an online store, the grocer, or anywhere, it usually comes in a wrap. 

So let it defrost still in that wrap in the fridge. 

Place it in a breast-side-up manner in a baking pan so it doesn’t contact other foods or the fridge’s surface to avoid contamination. 

Let it rest at the recommended time or till you are sure it has thawed completely before cooking

2. The Medium Method

In this method, you can get it thawed pretty quickly compared to the first technique. 

So rather than putting it in the fridge and waiting patiently for Christ to come, you will be thawing in cold water.

And 15-pound turkey should take only 7½ to 8 hours.

First off, you must maintain its original wrapping, like the previous method. And place in a larger, leak-proof plastic bag. 

Endeavor to squeeze out the extra air before sealing the bag. 

Then place the sealed plastic bag breast-side down but this time in a bucket (filled with cold water) large enough to contain the bird. 

This way, the turkey could submerge fully and thaw properly. 

You can also do this in your kitchen sink. 

Next, you are to cover it up with a plate or something. Then place a heavy object on top of it to press against the raising bird — keeping it submerged. 

Change the water every 30 minutes. And ensure you start cooking the turkey immediately after it defrosts. 

3. The Fastest Method

Imagine defrosting with fire?

No, not that kind of fire but with heat in a microwave oven

To ensure you’re doing the right thing, read the oven’s user manual for further instructions for thawing a frozen turkey. 

You will notice the time and power settings varies from model to model. But it could take anywhere up to an hour or so to defrost. 

This is how you do it:

  • Take the naked bird out of its wrapping. Remove all the metal clips or tags.
  • However, you still have to do the breast-side-up manner in the microwave-safe pan, so the pan catches any drips.
  • Monitor the turkey from time to time, to avoid burning.
  • After all said and done, wash inside of the oven to prevent cross-contamination. 
  • And don’t let it sit after thawing; cook it immediately. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can You Keep A Thawed Raw Turkey In The Refrigerator?

After it might have thawed completely, the bird still got about a day or two of safe relaxation in your fridge. If necessary, it can be refrozen too.

Is It Safe To Eat A Turkey Frozen For A Year?

Yes, it is. You can eat a turkey that has been in the freezer for a year. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, it is SAFE to eat foods kept constantly frozen at 0°F or lower.

Can You Leave A Turkey Out To Thaw Overnight?

Definitely not!

I’m not surprised why you asked because many people are fond of defrosting frozen chicken on the counter.

But DON’T when it comes to a full turkey. It will be affected by bacteria.

Even in terms of the chicken, you are not supposed to thaw it out overnight.

Why Change The Water When Thawing A Turkey?

To avoid any possible growth of bacteria. And this applies to the second method. While fast, it requires much preparation as you need to change the water every 30 minutes.

Conclusion: Can You Thaw A 15 Pound Turkey In The Refrigerator?

Beyond defrosting the rock-frozen bird lies food safety —and that should be your top priority. Loved ones should end the day with leftovers and not food poisoning.

So if you want some advice, we say choose to thaw in the refrigerator. Not as if other methods are not safe, but thawing it in the fridge is by far the safest you can get. Also, I have seen some home cooks use a combination of method one and two.

YES, it is possible. Instead of waiting for three days, you can use the fridge for thawing on the first two days and finish it up in the sink EARLY.

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