Thawing of poultry must be done carefully if it is to be done safely. Improper thawing can allow enteric pathogens contaminating the surface to proliferate to dangerous levels.


Thawing can be done:

(1) in the refrigerator, which is very slow

(2) in the microwave, which may not be suitable for large birds

(3) in cold water


When thawing in cold water:

(1) place the poultry in a water-tight plastic bag

(2) change the water regularly with cold water

Thawing Method

Time to Thaw a Large Poultry Item


24 hours for every 4-5 pounds (4.8 to 6 hours per pound)

cold water

30 minutes per pound


Once poultry has been completely thawed:

(1) it should be completely cooked

(2) it can be kept refrigerated for a day or two before being cooked


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