Can You Defrost Turkey In The Microwave?

Yes, you can defrost turkey in the microwave. The general rule is to allow 6 minutes per pound when defrosting. Make sure to rotate the turkey several times during the thawing process for even defrosting.

Can You Defrost Turkey In The Microwave

Preparing to Defrost a Turkey in the Microwave

Before using the microwave, you need to prepare the turkey correctly, ensuring that harmful bacteria don’t form during the defrosting process.

Selecting the Right-Sized Turkey

Selecting the right-sized turkey for defrosting in the microwave is crucial in achieving an even thaw. It is recommended to defrost turkeys in the microwave only if they are 4-5 pounds in weight. Choosing a larger bird can result in an uneven defrost.

When selecting a turkey, consider the size of the microwave-safe dish or plate that you will be using for defrosting. Ensure that the plate or dish is large enough to hold the turkey and that there is enough space for air circulation around the bird.

The wattage of the microwave may also affect the defrosting times, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for defrosting times based on the wattage of your microwave.

Choosing a Microwave-Safe Dish or Plate

It is crucial to choose the right dish or plate for defrosting. Avoid using metal or aluminum plates, as they are not safe for use in the microwave. Instead, choose glass, ceramic, or microwave-safe plastic which can withstand the heat generated by the defrosting process.

Using a microwave-safe dish or plate will ensure that the defrosting process is safe and effective. It is important to avoid damage to the microwave during the defrosting process because it could cause potential hazards. Choosing a microwave-safe dish or plate will prevent any negative incidents from happening during the defrosting process.

Calculating Minutes per Pound

Calculating the minutes per pound for defrosting a turkey is essential to ensure it’s completely thawed and ready to cook. The minutes per pound may vary depending on the method using to defrost the turkey.

For the cold water method, allow 30 minutes per pound. For example, a 20-pound turkey should take roughly 10 hours to defrost in cold water. It’s important to change the water every 30 minutes to ensure that it stays cold and the turkey thaws evenly.

For the refrigerator method, allow 1 day for every 4 pounds of turkey. For example, a 20-pound turkey should be placed in the refrigerator to defrost for at least 5 days. Make sure to place the turkey on a tray or in a bowl in the refrigerator to catch any excess liquid.

For the microwave method, calculate 6 minutes per pound. However, this method is only suitable for small-sized turkeys of around 10 pounds or less. Remember to place the turkey breast-side down in a microwave-safe dish or plate, set the power level to 50% and rotate or flip the turkey every 30 minutes for even defrosting.

Setting Power Level and Cooking Time

Firstly, calculate how much time you will need for defrosting by using the minutes per pound method. The amount of time needed will vary depending on the size of your turkey, so it is important to factor that in.

Once you’ve calculated the time, it’s time to set the power level. It’s usually recommended to set the power level to 50% during the defrosting process. This will help prevent the outside of the turkey from cooking while the inside is still frozen.

Be sure to also use a microwave-safe dish, such as a glass or ceramic dish. Avoid using plastic or metal containers, as they can cause damage or even start a fire.

How To Defrost Turkey In The Microwave?

The process of defrosting a frozen turkey can be a crucial step towards preparing a delicious and safe meal.

Step 1: Locate Original Wrapping and Place Turkey on Plate/Dish

First step is to locate the original wrapping and place the turkey on a microwave-safe plate or dish. It is recommended that you keep the turkey in its original wrapping to prevent any contamination during the defrosting process. Place the turkey on a microwave-safe plate or dish, making sure that the plate or dish is large enough to hold the turkey without any part of it hanging over the edges.

This ensures that the turkey is evenly defrosted and prevents any unwanted mess. It’s also important to place the turkey breast-side up on the plate or dish to allow for proper defrosting.

Step 2: Place Plate/Dish in Microwave and Set Time for Defrost Function

Firstly, select a microwave-safe dish or plate to place the turkey on. Make sure that it is large enough to comfortably fit the bird.

Next, set the microwave’s defrost function and power level. Consult your microwave’s user manual to determine how to set the defrost function and which power level to use. Generally, defrosting should be done on a lower power setting to prevent the turkey from cooking unevenly or partially cooking.

The recommended defrost time for a turkey is six minutes per pound, so make sure to set the appropriate time based on the weight of your bird. For example, a 12-pound turkey would need 72 minutes of defrosting time.

During the defrosting process, it is important to rotate the turkey several times to ensure that it thaws evenly. Additionally, use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature consistently and make sure that it is thawing at a safe temperature.

Step 3: Monitor Progress Regularly to Ensure Safe Temperatures Are Reached

It’s critical to monitor the temperature of your turkey regularly while it’s defrosting in the microwave to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Once the turkey’s centerpiece reaches a temperature of 40°F or higher, bacterial growth accelerates, and the risk of foodborne illness increases significantly.

To check the temperature of your turkey, use a meat thermometer and place it directly into the thickest part of the bird. Check the temperature frequently and make sure that it doesn’t rise above 40°F. If you notice any spots on the turkey that are already thawed, be sure to check their temperature as well.

Avoid using hot water to defrost the turkey since it encourages bacterial growth. Using a microwave with a defrost function helps maintain a consistent temperature that’s safe for defrosting. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, purchase one before attempting to cook your turkey safely.

Step 4: Thoroughly Check Internal Temperature of Turkey Before Cooking

The internal temperature of the turkey should reach a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the bird to ensure that all harmful bacteria are destroyed. To measure the temperature, use a meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the turkey.

When checking the temperature, avoid touching any bones since they may give a false reading. Ensure that the thermometer is not touching any bone, or else the temperature may be inaccurate. Keep monitoring the temperature at regular intervals until it reaches the safe minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s also important to let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes after cooking to allow the temperature to evenly distribute and the juices to settle. This will ensure that the turkey is cooked thoroughly and safe for consumption.

Potential Hazards of Not Defrosting In The Microwave Properly

Defrosting turkey in the microwave is a convenient and time-saving method. However, failing to defrost turkey properly in the microwave can lead to serious health hazards. Here are some of the potential hazards of not defrosting turkey in the microwave properly:

  • Harmful bacteria growth: If a turkey is not defrosted properly, harmful bacteria can grow on it. These bacteria can cause food poisoning and make you sick.
  • Risk of foodborne illness: If you cook a turkey that is thawed partially, there is a risk of foodborne illness. Harmful bacteria can survive in parts of the turkey that are still frozen.
  • Uneven cooking: If you don’t defrost turkey evenly, it will result in uneven cooking. If any parts are still frozen, they can get overcooked and lead to a dry turkey.

To ensure food safety and prevent potential hazards, follow the recommended guidelines for defrosting turkey in the microwave. Always use a microwave-safe dish, monitor the internal temperature, and allow plenty of time for defrosting.


How long does it take to defrost 1 pound of ground turkey?

The safest and most recommended way to defrost 1 pound of ground turkey is by using the refrigerator method. It typically takes around 24 hours for 1 pound of frozen ground turkey to defrost in the refrigerator.
However, if you need to defrost it quickly, you can use the cold water method. Place the turkey in a leak-proof bag and submerge it in a bowl of cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. It takes around 1 hour for 1 pound of ground turkey to defrost using this method.

Can You Cook a Frozen Turkey Without Thawing it First?

While it is not recommended to cook a frozen turkey without thawing it first, it is technically possible. This method comes with significant risks, including uneven cooking, potential bacterial growth, and longer cooking time.

Can you defrost turkey in the microwave?

Yes, you can use the defrost function on your microwave to thaw a frozen turkey. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific microwave, as power levels and times may vary.

How long does it take to defrost a turkey in the refrigerator?

The general rule of thumb is to allow one day of defrosting time for every four pounds of turkey. Therefore, a 16-pound turkey would take approximately four days to fully defrost in the refrigerator.

Is it safe to use hot water to defrost a turkey?

No, using hot water to defrost a turkey is not recommended as it can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria. Instead, it is recommended to use cold water or to defrost the turkey in the refrigerator or microwave.

Can I leave a turkey on the kitchen counter overnight to defrost?

No, leaving a turkey at room temperature can also lead to bacterial growth and, therefore, is not a safe method of defrosting. It is recommended to use one of the safe methods previously mentioned.

What is the safest method for defrosting a turkey?

The safest methods for defrosting a turkey are in the refrigerator, using the defrost function on a microwave, or thawing the turkey in cold water. It is important to ensure the turkey reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F before consuming to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

How long does it take to defrost a 12 pound turkey?

It generally takes about three days, or 72 hours, to fully defrost a 12-pound turkey in the refrigerator. Be sure to place the turkey on a tray or in a dish to catch any juices, and keep it in the original wrapping or in a leak-proof bag.

How long does it take to defrost a 15 pound turkey?

Defrosting a 15-pound turkey in the refrigerator takes approximately 3-4 days. You should allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of the bird. You can also use the cold water method which takes approximately 7-8 hours.


In conclusion, defrosting a turkey in the microwave is a quick and easy method, but it requires some caution. You must ensure that the turkey is completely defrosted before cooking it, as partially frozen meat can harbor dangerous bacteria.

Additionally, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for defrosting in the microwave to prevent overcooking or uneven defrosting. Overall, if you’re in a time crunch and need to defrost your turkey quickly, using the microwave can be a viable option.

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