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


It’s a classic Thanksgiving cooking oversight. You bought the turkey, but forgot to defrost it. Or maybe you bought it several days before the big day and it’s still frozen in places. Hope is not lost. You can defrost a frozen turkey and get it ready to roast in just a few hours with these instructions.

Give your turkey a bath

A water bath can get you a roasting ready turkey. 

  1. Leave the turkey in its 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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