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Turkey Thawing and Cooking Cheat Sheet

Need a quick reminder of how long your frozen turkey needs to properly defrost? How about how long it will take to cook? I have these super handy Turkey Cheat Sheets for you to reference to help de-stress your holiday meal preparation. Don’t forget, when your checking to see if your turkey is finished, put the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.

Turkey Cheat Sheet Graphic

Turkey Thawing Cheat Sheet

Size (Pounds)

Time (in Refrigerator) 

5-8 2 days
8-11 3 days
11-18 3 – 4 days
18-22 4 – 5 days
22-24 5 – 6 days


Turkey Thawing Tips:

  • Place your turkey in a disposable aluminum roasting pan to thaw. The pan will be deep enough to collect all the liquid from the bird as it thaws.
  • To speed up thawing, place the frozen turkey in a very large stock pot, fill with water, and place in refrigerator until thawed. It’s important to keep the water cold for safe food handling.


Turkey Cooking Cheat Sheet (thawed)

Size (Pounds)

Hours / Stuffed at 325°F

Hours / Unstuffed at 325°F

5-8 3 – 3½ 2¼ – 2¾ 
8-11 3½ – 4  2¾ – 3¼ 
11-18 4 – 4½ 3¼ – 4¼ 
18-22 4½-5 4¼ – 4¾ 
22-24 5 – 5½ 4¾ – 5


Turkey Cooking Tips:

  • This cheat sheet is only a guide, make sure you check your turkey doneness early and often.
  • Allow your turkey to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting it, this will help it to cook evenly.
  • If you place your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, it lifts the turkey out of the turkey drippings and allows the heat to flow around the turkey.  I like to add a little water  to the pan so that the turkey drippings don’t burn – about 1 – 2 cups depending on the size of your roasting pan.  Turkey drippings are key to making a delicious gravy!

One comment

  1. Any tips for brining please. Thank you

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