Frozen turkeys may prevent bacteria from growing, but it does not kill them. Therefore, it is important to keep turkeys out of the temperature danger zone (40-140°F). Never defrost a turkey by placing it on the counter. It can cause food-borne illness.
There are three ways to safely defrost a turkey:
- Under refrigeration. This requires adequate refrigerator space and advanced planning and is the preferred method for defrosting a turkey. The turkey should be placed on the lowest possible shelf to prevent any juices from spilling into other foods. A high-rimmed pan (2-3") is required to catch any juices. Thaw breast-side up. Defrost times will depend on the size of the bird. On average, it will take one day per 4 pounds for the bird to completely defrost. Plan on defrosting and cooking within a two day time period.
- Using a large sink and running water. The turkey may be defrosted by placing it in a sink of running water or in a sink of water that will be changed every half hour. Ample room is needed for loose particles and overflow. Special care must be taken in cleaning and sanitizing every tool used in preparation of the turkey. Hot water and a bleach-based cleanser should be used to sanitize the sink and utensils used.
- Using Pure Convection™. You may use Pure Convection™ at 150°F to defrost a partially frozen turkey for same-day cooking. Partially frozen means that the skin, legs and wings are defrosted and can move freely, but there are still some ice crystals and the inside of the turkey's cavity is still hard. Place turkey on an oven-roasting pan with a V-shaped rack. It will take approximately 8-11 minutes per pound to defrost the turkey. This is not recommended with frozen-solid turkeys as it will remain in the temperature danger zone for too long.