Skip to Content

How To Thaw A Turkey Overnight In 7 Holiday-Friendly Steps

How To Thaw A Turkey Overnight In 7 Holiday-Friendly Steps

Sharing is caring!

Thanksgiving is an American tradition that celebrates the harvest. It is a time for family and friends to come together and share food. The centerpiece of the meal is traditionally a roasted turkey.

The tradition of Thanksgiving has its roots in a 1621 celebration by the Plymouth colony in what was then called New England. They celebrated the good harvest, but also thanked for their blessings and avoided famine over the winter.

Turkeys are raised for their meat and can be found in a variety of forms. Some of these forms are whole turkeys (usually roasted), ground turkey, and turkey bacon.

If you want to be part of the Thanksgiving celebration but don’t know how to thaw a turkey overnight, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered because I am bringing you a short guide to answer questions like: can you defrost a turkey overnight? and can I leave my turkey out overnight to thaw?

How To Thaw A Turkey Overnight: Best Way To Thaw A Turkey Overnight

The technique I will be using is leaving the turkey to thaw on the counter. Here are my steps:

1. Preparation

frozen turkey


The preparation to thaw a turkey overnight is not as complicated as it may seem. The first step is to make sure that the turkey is there. Go to the grocery store and buy a frozen bird, optionally with a spatchcocked back or whole. Choose a quality brand like Butterball.

2. Take it out of the freezer

The best way to thaw a turkey overnight is to take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator. This method is safe and will not cause any harm to the turkey. It will also ensure that the turkey is fully thawed by morning.

3. Leave overnight

Then, prepare for the evening thaw by placing the turkey into a bowl or tray that is deep and wide enough to hold the whole turkey.

The turkey should be thawed overnight before it can be cooked. Leaving it overnight means to leave the turkey in the refrigerator for 12 hours or more to thaw.

4. Move if too hot

raw turkey

When asking yourself can I leave a turkey out overnight to thaw, you must also make sure the room temperature is not too high. Any temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit will mean instant spoilage.

If the temperature is higher or just above room temperature in your home, move the turkey to the fridge.

5. Prepare side dishes

Make sure your mashed potatoes are there too. The side dishes can be prepared in advance and frozen. They can then be thawed in the refrigerator or on the countertop before cooking them, just like the turkey itself.

6. Flip

The process of flipping a turkey is not difficult. The first step is to make sure that your container has enough space for you to convert it without spilling any of the juices or ingredients from it. This will allow your turkey to thaw evenly.

If you are using the cold water method, you will need to change the water every 4 to 8 hours or so until you notice that it has thawed enough for you to remove it and start cooking.

7. Voila!

Once the turkey is thawed, prepare it for cooking and place it in the oven. Roasting a turkey is one of the most popular methods of cooking. It is also the most common method for cooking a turkey that will be served whole.

Can You Leave A Turkey Out To Thaw Overnight? 4 Techniques

Even when talking about ground turkey, you can leave it out to thaw. But, there are different techniques for this. Here are all of them and the one I like most:

1. Can You Thaw A Turkey On The Counter?

turkey in a white plate

Yes, you can thaw turkey on the counter. You just need to make sure that you keep it at a safe temperature while it is thawing. If the turkey is frozen, then it will take about 24 hours to thaw in the fridge.

Turkey can be thawed safely on the counter in a few hours if you have the right tools and preparation. This method may be for you if you’re looking for an alternative to thawing turkey in the oven or microwave.

However, there are some things to keep in mind before deciding to use this method of thawing your turkey.

Some people say that you can’t thaw a turkey on the counter because it will take too long, and it’s not safe for food to be at room temperature for more than two hours. I agree because your frozen turkey might go bad if exposed to higher temperatures.

2. Can You Thaw A Turkey In The Sink?

There are many people who swear by this method, while others are not so convinced. I don’t like it because the cold water method makes it hard to change the water every few hours.

Still, you are thawing a few pounds of turkey. No one wants an unthawed turkey on Thanksgiving morning. There are many reasons why this might not be the best idea.

The first is that the kitchen sink may not be deep enough to accommodate the turkey, which could lead to it tipping over and spilling its contents everywhere. 

The second is that a sink full of water can get quite messy and slippery when you try to move it, and the dripping water could get everywhere.

3. Can I Thaw Turkey In The Fridge?

When it comes to thawing methods, this is the one with food safety in mind. With that being said, it is still evident that refrigerator thawing is the longest or most time-consuming.

If you are running out of time before Thanksgiving morning, and need to thaw it in the fridge, go ahead and put it in there. It will thaw on its own; however, if you want to speed up the process, you can put the turkey on a plate or tray with a little bit of water underneath it and place it back in the fridge.

Still, if left too long in the fridge or in the plastic bag it can still cause food poisoning, so make sure you don’t cross over to the danger zone.

4. Thawing Turkey In Water Overnight

You can leave a turkey out overnight and it will thaw. The key is to put the turkey in a dish that has some cold water in it and cover the dish with plastic wrap. This will help keep the water from evaporating and ensure that the turkey is thawed by morning.

I know many people who have done this successfully for years. The key is to make sure that you are using an oven-safe container so that you can immediately cook the turkey once it has fully thawed.

In fact, this is my favorite method because it is approved by the USDA and it lowers your cooking time since many turkey recipes require some water.

Tips For How To Thaw A Turkey Overnight

frozen turkey

After answering your questions like can I leave a frozen turkey out overnight and giving you instructions on how to thaw a turkey overnight, here are a few tips for getting the most crispy roast turkey results:

• If you plan to thaw your turkey overnight, then you will need a large container that can hold the bird. Place the turkey in the container and cover it with cold water. Soak for about an hour, then drain and place in the refrigerator.

• You can place it in a sink full of cold water and change out the water every 30 minutes or so until it is fully thawed. You can also use a microwave by placing it on a dish or tray in the microwave and set on low power for 5-15 minutes at a time until fully thawed.

• Don’t leave your frozen bird in hot water while it is thawing in. There are other safe ways to thaw a turkey overnight, and hot water will only promote bacterial growth.

• The same goes for the original packaging of a 2-pound bird. Don’t leave it in the plastic bag or original wrapping because it could be contaminated with foodborne illnesses. No one wants to wake up on Thanksgiving day and see their turkey go bad and spend the Holiday season sick.

• The turkey should be placed on a tray or dish so that the juices do not leak onto other foods. This is the safest way to thaw turkey outside fridge.

• The next best way to thaw a turkey overnight is to submerge it in cold water. The turkey should be submerged in cold water for about 24 hours, changing the water every 4 hours.

• No technique will guarantee your turkey will be thawed in only a half hour. Still, in my experience, cold water thawing is the fastest overnight technique and will guarantee you have your thawed turkey the next day.

• Don’t forget to change the side on which the turkey is resting with the turkey breast side up and backside up. It’s not ground beef. You can’t leave it and forget about it while it thaws.

Leaving A Turkey Out Overnight To Thaw

I hope that this article helped you understand the importance of Thanksgiving turkey. You should now know how to cook it, what to serve with it, and how to make a dish that can be toasted to.

Most importantly, I hope you now know how to thaw a turkey overnight and which way is the best. This article has everything you need. Just make sure not to thaw your turkey at the last minute.

Here Are 4 Signs On How To Tell If Ground Turkey Is Bad

Friday 4th of November 2022

[…] is usually a centerpiece on the Thanksgiving table and is often the most-used protein for other family gatherings. It’s also a staple in many […]