As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself scrambling to prepare for the big feast. Between cleaning the house, prepping side dishes, and figuring out how to satisfy everyone’s needs, thawing the turkey often gets pushed to the back burner. Then suddenly, it’s the night before, and I’m panicking because my turkey breast is still a frozen block of ice. Sound familiar? Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to speed up the thawing process to avoid a turkey disaster.
To quickly thaw your turkey breast, you can use your microwave, thaw it in the fridge, use cool water, or you can use an electric turkey roaster. Still, there are some things to make sure of first.
With some planning, you’ll be enjoying a delicious home-cooked turkey dinner before you know it! Whether you’re in a time crunch or just impatient like me, using one of these methods will ensure you’re enjoying delicious turkey in no time.
Use the Microwave
When I need to thaw a turkey breast in a hurry, the microwave is my go-to method. For small turkey breasts (under 3 pounds), the microwave can defrost them in under an hour. Here are the steps I follow:
First, remove the turkey breast from its original packaging. Place it on a microwave-safe plate to catch any juices as it thaws.
Microwave the turkey breast in 30-second bursts, flipping it over each time. This helps ensure even thawing and prevents overcooking the edges. After each interval, check on the turkey breast and flip it to the other side. Using this method, a 2- to 3-pound breast may take 6 to 8 minutes. The turkey breast is thawed when it’s soft and pliable and the juices run clear.
Once done microwaving, let the turkey breast stand for 10 to 15 minutes before handling or cooking. This allows the temperature to equalize and the thawing process to complete. The total thawing time in the microwave plus standing time should not exceed 2 hours for food safety. 
Thaw in the Refrigerator
Thawing a turkey breast in the fridge is my preferred method. It’s simple, safe, and ensures the meat stays at a proper temperature.
To thaw in the refrigerator, first place the turkey breast on a plate to catch any juices as it thaws. Allow about 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey breast to thaw completely. So if you have a 3 to 4-pound breast, it should take 18 to 24 hours to thaw in the fridge.
Flip the turkey breast over halfway through the thawing time. This helps it thaw evenly and at a safe temperature. Ensure the turkey breast is in its original wrapping, and place it on a plate or tray to catch any juices.
Check to ensure the thawing turkey breast remains cold to the touch at all times.
Thawing in the refrigerator is a no-fuss way to prepare your turkey breast for cooking. The controlled, cool environment helps prevent bacterial growth so you can enjoy a nice, delicious meal.
Compared to thawing on the counter, which can be unsafe, thawing in the fridge lets you cross one thing off your list without worry!
Thaw in Cold Water
Thawing a turkey breast in cold water is my go-to method when I’m in a hurry. It’s fast, simple, and gets the job done.
To thaw your turkey breast in cold water, here’s what you’ll need to do:
Ensure your turkey breast is in its original wrapping and place it in a container or sink. A resealable bag works great for this.
Submerge the turkey breast in cold tap water, and then change the water every 30 minutes until it’s thawed. This usually takes about an hour per pound.
Keep the turkey breast in its original wrapping while it’s submerged. This prevents water from seeping into the meat.
Moreover, you need to check on the turkey breast regularly as it thaws by gently poking at it to check how soft and pliable it’s becoming. Once it’s squishy all over, it’s ready!
Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels or a clean cloth before cooking. Don’t worry about any remaining ice crystals, as they will melt during cooking.
Use Electic Turkey Roaster
Using an electric turkey roaster is one of my favorite ways to quickly and safely thaw a turkey breast. It’s a simple set-it-and-forget-it method requiring minimal effort but yields perfect results.
First, remove the turkey breast from its original packaging and pat it dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Place the breast in the roaster basket or rack and put it in the roaster. Pour about an inch of water into the bottom of the roaster. This will help the turkey breast thaw evenly and catch any drips as it thaws.
Turn the roaster on to its thaw setting or, if you don’t have it, the lowest temperature setting. Check on the turkey breast every 30 minutes and flip it over. This helps the thawing process happen evenly on all sides. As it thaws, you may need to drain some of the water from the bottom of the roaster and add fresh water.
After about 3 to 5 hours, check if the turkey breast is thawed by sticking a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. It should read 40 °F when fully thawed. The total time will depend on the size of your turkey breast.
Keep in mind that this is only a fast method if you have a small 3- to 4-pound breast. It may only take 3 to 4 hours to defrost it, but a larger 8- to 10-pound breast can take up to 8 hours to thaw completely.
And after you thaw your turkey breast, you can cook it in the roaster like so! What’s your favorite way to cook turkey breast? Tell me all about it in the comments!