Ask Marilyn – “Thawing a Turkey”

by Marilyn Markel in Learn

Have questions about a recipe, cooking techniques, cooking tools or ingredients? Hosting your first dinner party or holiday gathering and need some ideas or tips?

Marilyn, our Cooking School Manager, is here to answer all of your cooking questions. We will protect your anonymity so feel free to ask anything, even the questions you never dared to ask about cooking. From novice to pro, this advice column is for food people, by food people.

Ask the questions you want answered!

Email with subject, “Ask Marilyn”

Reader Question:

What is the best way to thaw a turkey, and long does it take?
- Blair

Marilyn’s Answer:



Thank you for your question! You should thaw frozen birds in the refrigerator in the original packaging, which takes several days. When possible, I recommend purchasing a fresh turkey. Many frozen turkeys are injected with a brine and will be saltier than fresh turkeys. Generally speaking, fresh turkeys have a better flavor, and are readily available for Thanksgiving. If purchasing a fresh turkey, do so a couple of days before roasting and use a dry brine. The brine is rinsed off before roasting and is much easier than managing a wet brine. If you want, you can salt and pepper the turkey just as you would before baking at least one day before roasting, then keep in the refrigerator loosely covered. You should remove the turkey from the refrigerator for a couple of hours before roasting.