Are you wondering How Long to Thaw a Turkey Breast? In this post, we are covering 2 thawing methods, which one is safest and even have included a handy time chart.

If you need more help with serving, check out how much turkey breast to buy per person and what goes with turkey breast.

Frozen turkey breast roast in original wrapper on a plate in the fridge.

While frozen in a freezer, turkey breast is good indefinitely. As soon as it begins to defrost, bacteria may start grow. That’s why it matters how you thaw a turkey breast.

Frozen turkey breasts are a go-to for most of us, especially if it’s not a holiday season. Brands like Jenni-O and Butterball are easier to find year round. Not to mention more affordable.

So, if you want to enjoy a turkey meal not on Thanksgiving, you need to know how to safely thaw a turkey breast.

What Is the Best Way to Thaw a Turkey Breast?

The best way and safest way to thaw a whole turkey breast in time for Thanksgiving is on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. It is considered the safest method because turkey breast will thaw at consistent temperature.

It is not the fastest way, so you have to plan ahead. But when raw meat remains cold all the time, it prevents bacterial growth and everyone avoids a food poisoning. Therefore, it is the best way and my preferred method of thawing meat.

However, if you are in a rush, you can aslo thaw raw turkey in cold water.

How Long to Defrost Turkey Breast in Refrigerator?

Place frozen turkey breast in original wrapper on a large plate or baking dish to catch any juices, just in case. That is why it is recommended to thaw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

Thaw smaller 2 pounds turkey breast overnight and defrost larger 4-5 pounds turkey breast for 24 hours. If you breast is even larger, 7-10 pounds, you will need to thaw it for 2 days.

Keep in mind, all standard refrigerators have colder and warmer zones. Generally speaking, bottom shelf above the veggie drawer is cooler than the top shelf. Likewise, the back is usually cooler than the front.

So, if you know your fridge runs colder, place meat on a top shelf. Recommended fridge temperature is 37 to 40 degrees F.

Pro Tip

After turkey has thawed, it is safe to refrigerate it for another 1-2 days.

How Long to Thaw Turkey Breast in Cold Water?

Frozen turkey breast thawing in cold ice bath.

If it’s Thanksgiving morning and you don’t have enough time, the quickest way I learnt from Good Housekeeping is to thaw turkey breast in cold water bath with ice.

Keep breast meat in its original wrapping and place it in a large bowl, container or small sink. Add enough cold water to cover and the add ice. You may also change it once or twice to keep water ice cold.

Good rule of thumb is to plan on thawing time of 30 minutes per pound of turkey breast.

With cold water method, you have to cook thawed turkey breast immediately.

Pro Tip

If you don’t have ice on hand, you can place turkey in cold tap water but you will have to change it every 30 minutes. It is important to keep the water ice cold and maintain certain water temperature during the thawing process.

Turkey Breast Thawing Chart

I put this thawing time chart together for your quick reference:

  • 2 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 12 hours, cold water – 1 – 2 hours
  • 3 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 18 hours, cold water – 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • 4 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 24 hours, cold water – 2 – 3 hours
  • 5 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 30 hours, cold water – 2.5 – 3.5 hours
  • 6 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 1 1/2 days, cold water – 3 – 4 hours
  • 7 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 1 3/4 days, cold water – 3.5 – 4.5 hours
  • 8 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 2 days, cold water – 4 – 5 hours
  • 9 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 2 1/4 days, cold water – 4.5 – 5.5 hours
  • 10 lbs turkey breast: fridge – 2 1/2 days, cold water – 5 – 6 hours.

Things to Avoid

  • Do not thaw turkey breast on a counter: Thawing turkey at room temperature is considered a danger zone due to harmful bacteria growth and possible food poisoning.
  • Do not thaw turkey breast in hot water or warm water: Not only will bacteria grow, your turkey breast will also start “cooking” in certain spots.
  • Do not thaw turkey breast in a microwave: While it is considered a safe practice by USDA, defrosting frozen turkey in a microwave oven is not a good idea, even on defrost setting. All ovens have different wattage and power level. You will more likely end up with some cooked spots, some defrosted spots and some still frozen areas.

FAQs

How do I know if turkey breast is thawed?

Touch it with your hand and see if it feels soft like fresh poultry. You can also poke with a fork outer layers of the breast to see that there aren’t any frozen parts. If it’s too hard to poke, then it is still partially frozen.

Can I still cook a partially frozen turkey breast?

Yes you can, but it will affect your cook time and it will be longer.

Can I cook frozen turkey breast?

Yes, it is safe to cook a fully frozen turkey breast. However, you will have hard time to season it, therefore it’s nice if you bought a seasoned turkey breast. And cooking time will be 50% longer, so plan ahead.

Does time change for boneless breasts or bone-in?

No. Since the bone is very small, it will take same time for either. The times I have included are also on a safe side, so you could follow them to thaw even full turkey.

Turkey Breast Recipes

Frozen turkey breast on a plate in the refrigerator.

How Long to Thaw a Turkey Breast

Are you wondering How Long to Thaw a Turkey Breast? Here are 2 thawing methods that are safe.
5 from 2 votes
Diet Gluten Free
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 1 minute
Thawing Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 1 minute

Ingredients  

  • Turkey breast frozen

Instructions 

Refrigerator Method

  • Place frozen turkey breast in original wrapper on a large plate or baking dish to catch any juices, just in case. That is why it is recommended to thaw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
  • Thaw smaller 2 pounds turkey breast overnight and defrost larger 4-5 pounds turkey breast for 24 hours. If you breast is even larger, 7-10 pounds, you will need to thaw it for 2 days.

Cold Water Bath Method

  • Keep breast meat in its original wrapping and place it in a large bowl, container or small sink. Add enough cold water to cover and the add ice. You may also change it once or twice to keep water ice cold.
  • Good rule of thumb is to plan on thawing time of 30 minutes per pound of turkey breast.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: North American
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I tried the cold water method to thaw my frozen turkey breast on Thanksgiving and it worked like a charm. Thank you so much for great instructions!

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