No fuss, no water change, no refrigerator Turkey Defrost

Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
1st Time TEST

I placed a 14lb frozen turkey in a tall small cooler with water and an 8lb bag of ice.
Its 1pm on Tuesday and the plan is to cook after noon Thursday.
One thermometer is submerged and reads 32*F
One thermometer is on top of the ice and turkey in the air, it reads 36*F

I expect the bird to thaw in about 1 day, giving me 1 day to spare.

No water changes
No taking up room in the fridge
No nothing expected to be done until Thursday cook

The worst outcome I foresee is potentially adding ice

wish me luck
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Good luck
I put whole frozen turkey, still vacuum wrapped, in big pot, and cover with cold water. Water and turkey stay very cold, thaw in hours


TVWBB Hall of Fame
Good luck!
I bought mine (3) on Saturday two 14#'s and one 22#
They have been hanging out in the fridge on sheet pans doing nicely.
I have two french door fridges and a dual oven which I really appreciate around the holidays.:)


Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
34 hours in and the water was measuring 33 & 34*f on the two thermometers.
To be safe, I decided to add more ice.

It is interesting to note that the turkey has built up a solid ring of ice around itself. I look forward to checking in the morning...I'm wondering if the bird is thawed-I'm guessing not at this point.

Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
Relax. All is good.
It is about 40 hours in now. This morning I had to open and check the experiment.
Water is 32*F. The turkey has a ring of ice around it. So, what to do?
I pulled the bird and put in a sink of cold water. There is still the ring of ice around it 1/4" to 1 inch thick.
The bird itself feels defrosted. The ice is on the netting.
At this point, after 5 minutes in the sink, I decided to just go back in the cold waterbath in the cooler. No extra ice. It is mostly cold water except for the ice ring. My reasoning is only the center of the bird is likely frozen as all the outside feels defrosted despite the ice ring attached to the netting around the bird.
So a couple of hours later-10am, the water is 33-34*.
Looks like by noon all will be on schedule. (This bird will be spatchcocked so I will be able to deal with any lingering frozen part if that is an issue.)

At this point, I'm guessing another 1/2 day would be smart for this defrost method or 2 1/2 to 3 days.
My goal of course is to stay safe under 40 which I have been the entire time. Temp probes and alarms have been on.

Whatever stage of defrost it is when I spatchcock the bird, it will have stayed in the safe zone.

When using this technique, times will certainly vary with the size of the bird, size of the cooler and insulating qualities of the cooler.
Always use a thermometer and alarm.

Final report later-enjoy your Thanksgiving!
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Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
Its 12.30 on turkey day.the bird in the cooler is hanging in there doing just fine.
37-38*F in cooler
I'll start spatchcocking the bird by 2pm

hope everyones bird is behaving today

Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
I removed the bird at 2.20pm. It had been in the cooler just over 49 hours total.
About one quart of ice was added in this process.
The turkey was removed from the cooler for 5 minutes for 'examination' and placed in a cold water bath in the sink then returned to the cooler without adding any ice.

The temperature of the bird upon final removal for spatchcocking was 29.9*F. It was 98.5% defrosted-just a little stiff. For roasting whole I would advise an extra half day of defrost for spatchcocking it worked quite well.

I would call that about perfect! I will use this method of defrost in the future. I like saving the refrigerator space when only one is available.