The calculator here:


says I need about four days of thawing, and I only have two. Can I cold water thaw it at the start, and let the rest thaw in the fridge?

2 Answers 2


It's fine to thaw for a few (or several) hours under cold water and then put it in the refrigerator. Just keep the water cold and refrigerate immediately upon removing the turkey from the water. The USDA and Butterball are being extremely overly conservative, most likely because a lot of people are really bad at following instructions. Cold water good - warm water not good

As a matter of fact, defrosting under slowly running cold water for several hours now, and refrigerating until time to cook is exactly what I would do.

I happen to live in a part of the world where I can be guilt-free about slowly running cold water for hours. There is no such thing as a water shortage here, the melting glaciers are extraordinarily huge. Thawing a turkey that way in some parts of the world (and even here in the US) would be an environmentally unsound way to do it. So in those parts of the world, be sure to buy frozen turkeys several days in advance so there is plenty of time to defrost in the refrigerator.

  • I really briefly by accident put the turkey under hot water before I switched it to cold. Should I be concerned?
    – Anon
    Dec 17, 2016 at 1:55
  • 3
    Briefly? No, that isn't a cause for concern. The USDA and Butterball are concerned that people will run the turkey under warm water for hours.
    – Jolenealaska
    Dec 17, 2016 at 2:04
  • 1
    Hey I am running it under tap water, and Its still in the bag, and I am pretty sure it is a perfect seal. However, it seems there is some moisture inside the bag, and I am wondering if I should poke a hole on the bottom to drain it? I am not sure if it is from the turkey or the water running on it.
    – Anon
    Dec 17, 2016 at 19:25
  • 1
    @Akiva I'd wait until you're ready to put it in the fridge. Poke a small hole then and hold the hole downwards to drain.
    – Jolenealaska
    Dec 17, 2016 at 19:41
  • 1
    That's fine. As long as the water is cold, you're effectively refrigerating it.
    – Jolenealaska
    Dec 17, 2016 at 20:17

My gut feel is you could go 1/2 way in water (4 hours) then finish in the fridge.

Or go the whole 8 hours in water and refrigerate.

According to a link in the first comment should cook immediately after water thawing. In that case just reverse and start thawing in the refrigerator.


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