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How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Turkey Breast?

garlic mayo glazed turkey

Freezing turkey is a great way to prolong its shelf life if you don’t plan to use it right away.

Many people do this, and when it comes time to eat turkey breast, they end up wondering how to go about defrosting it.

Defrosting a turkey breast isn’t challenging, but it does require some planning because of how long it takes.

How long does it take to thaw a turkey breast?

Usually, it takes about 2 days for a turkey breast to thaw completely in the fridge, but the time varies based on the size of the bird. The general rule is to defrost for 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey breast. However, the thawing time can take as little as 3 hours depending on the method you use.

The rest of this article is going to teach you all about freezing and thawing a turkey breast so that you will feel at ease when doing so.

How Do You Properly Thaw a Turkey Breast?

The easiest (and safest) way to thaw a turkey breast is to just put it in your fridge and wait.

However, if you want your turkey to thaw faster, you can put it in cold water to do so. This method just requires a little bit more monitoring to make sure that the water stays cold, so your turkey doesn’t start to go bad.

If you ask anyone who knows a thing or two about defrosting turkey, they will tell you to just do it in the fridge. This is because the turkey breast will thaw more evenly, and this method is the easiest.

As long as you plan in advance, keeping your turkey in the fridge for a couple of days shouldn’t be a problem.

All you have to do is place the frozen turkey (still wrapped) in a bowl or tray in the fridge. This will collect any juice or condensation that happens during the thawing process.

Just in case, you should still put your thawing turkey at the bottom of the fridge to avoid any contamination of foods below it.

If you don’t have time to thaw your turkey in the fridge, you can submerge it (still wrapped) in a big bowl of cold water on the counter.

This method is a bit more involved because you have to change the water every 30 minutes (this will ensure that it stays cold, and your turkey doesn’t go bad). 

However, your turkey breast should thaw in 3-8 hours as a result.

If you go the cold water route, make sure your water is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower at all times. If you let your water get warmer than this it can lead to bacteria growth, and eating that turkey will make you sick.

How to thaw a turkey breast properly

How Long Can You Wait to Cook a Turkey Breast After Thawing It?

After you thaw a turkey breast, you can cook it right away or wait for a bit. Just know that it should be cooked within 4 days. If you wait longer than this, you risk the turkey going bad and not being good to eat.

Cooking the turkey breast within 1-3 days of thawing is optimal but waiting 4 days is the most you should go.

If you wait too long to cook your turkey breast after it’s thawed, you may notice that it has a strange texture or smells bad. Turkey that’s gone bad often has a rotten egg smell and feels extra slimy.

If this happens, you unfortunately should toss out the turkey. Because even if you cook it at a really high temperature, this won’t kill the bacteria that have started to grow.

Can You Cook a Turkey Breast From Frozen Without Thawing?

It is definitely possible to cook a turkey breast from frozen. In fact, some people even prefer it! Less waiting, less of a mess and some say that it comes out even juicier than if you wait for it to defrost.

However, the turkey won’t be able to be brined or seasoned if you cook it straight from frozen, which might be a dealbreaker for some of you.

You might be interested in cooking your turkey breast straight from frozen. If so, you’ll need a roasting pan and roasting rack. Then you can put tin foil in the bottom of the roasting pan, placing the roasting rack on top.

Then the turkey goes on the roasting rack. Using this method will ensure that the turkey isn’t sitting in any of the juices that drip out as it cooks.

Then, all you need to do is put it in an oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking a frozen turkey breast does take longer than cooking a thawed one since it needs to defrost during this process. 

Usually, it will take about 1.5 times the amount of time it would’ve taken to cook after being thawed. 

How to thaw a turkey breast properly

Will a Turkey Breast Have the Same Texture After It Is Frozen And Thawed?

There isn’t really a noticeable difference between a turkey breast that has been frozen and a turkey breast that has not.

In fact, most of the turkeys that you will buy in the store are or have been frozen at some point, and they always taste just fine. 

Some people think that turkey breast that has been frozen and thawed may be a little bit drier than if it hadn’t been frozen.

This is possible because food tends to lose some of its moisture when you freeze it. But really, it isn’t a super noticeable difference, and as long as you don’t overcook the turkey breast, it can still be nice and juicy even if it’s been frozen.

Final Thoughts

Turkey breasts do take a while to thaw, but you can speed up this process by using the cold water method. Whatever you choose, just make sure you are thawing the turkey safely to avoid food poisoning.

And if you don’t want to go through the thawing process, remember: You can always just cook it from frozen.

properly thawing turkey

Turkey Recipes to Try:

Garlic Mayo Glazed Turkey Breast

Grandma’s Roast Turkey

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