How Long Can a Thawed Turkey Stay in the Fridge

Turkey is a classic meal for holidays, family get-togethers, and celebrations. For it to be cooked correctly it needs to be thawed right. So, how long an uncooked turkey can stay in the fridge really just depends on how you thawed the turkey.


How Long Can a Thawed Turkey Stay in the Fridge?

A thawed turkey should be kept in the fridge for less than two days, so it can’t be kept for a week.  To thaw a turkey in the fridge, you need to allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey, but once it’s fully defrosted, you have two days to cook it.

At What Rate Does a Turkey Defrost in the Refrigerator?

t takes around 24 hours for every four to five pounds in a refrigerator set to 40°F.


FDA-Approved Methods for Defrosting Turkey

Defrosting in a Refrigerator

Keep the turkey in the original packaging.

Check the weight and estimate the defrost time. It takes around 24 hours for every four to five pounds in a refrigerator set to 40°F

Place at the bottom on a roasting tray or something that will catch drippings.

Thawing with Cold Water

Re-wrap the turkey in 2 layers of plastic wrap.

Fill up your sink large enough with cold tap water.

Submerge and replace the water every 30 minutes.

You should give around 30 minutes per pound to thaw the turkey completely. 

Thawing in a Cooler

Using a cooler to defrost turkey is a convenient method with regard to space and portability.

Much like the sink, we fill a good quality cooler with water and submerge the turkey.

Re-wrap the turkey in 2 layers of plastic wrap.

Fill the cooler halfway with cold tap water.

Submerge and insert a temperature probe.

Monitor the water temp as per our ‘danger zone’ guidelines.

Replace water if required or add ice if you need to cool down.

Thawing With a Microwave

Transfer the frozen meat to a microwave-safe container.

Set the microwave to defrost according to your turkey’s weight.

Shift and rotate the turkey as it defrosts, this will ensure it defrosts evenly.

Remember that the microwave will start to warm some part while it’s still defrosting, so you must cook it straight away.


Do Not Defrost Turkey on The Counter

Never defrost meat at room temperature or with hot water. If you leave your turkey or any other meat for more than four hours, plan on it being unsafe and throw it out.

Leftover Turkey Storage?

Leftover turkey can be eaten within 3-4 days of cooking. To ensure that it is safe to eat, refrigerate it within 2 hours of cooking.

Cooked turkey can be frozen for up to 6 months. Some people recommend two months. Buy a larger bird if you hope to plan for leftovers.

Important Food Safety Considerations

Note down the expiry date and plan to cook it before freezing.

Estimate the time to defrost and check for a thorough thawing.

Cook the turkey within two days of it thawing.

Minimize air exposure.

Throw away if unsure.


Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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