Russ' Recipes
Russ' Recipes
Break Line
Break Line

         For me in the past ..... defrosting a frozen turkey always was a pain in the rump ..... When you are trying to get ready to serve your family and/or friends a " Thanksgiving Meal " one of the things your don't need is to use up refrigerator space for days trying to get ready for the feast with a large turkey defrosting in there !

         There are so many other things that you also need in the " fridge " to get ready for this great yearly meal ..... so about 10 years ago I tried to find another way to defrost the turkey without taking up so much space and " to also insure the turkey was safely defrosted " ..... and I found the solution :

That was the answer to my problem ..... and this is how you do it :

  • Washout the inside of your cooler   ~  ( you'll see why later )

  • Place your frozen turkey, " while still in the wrapper ", in the clean cooler and cover it .....

  • Leave it in the cooler based on the weight of your turkey ..... 1 hour for every pound.   So a " 20 pound turkey " will be defrosting in your cooler for " 20 hours " ..... then simply add one extra hour as well.

  • So total defrosting time for a " 20 pound turkey " in your cooler will be " 21 hours "
( Note : during the above I normally leave my cooler on my back porch just outside the kitchen door )

         Doing it this way will " really free up some fridge space " and also " safely " defrost your turkey !   Now the " center " of the turkey ( where the neck, etc. are wrapped up ) will still be a little frozen and your turkey still needs some cleaning when you take it out of your cooler so you still have to do the following :

  • Unwrap your turkey and place it back in your clean cooler and fill the cooler with cold, salted water ..... leave the turkey in the water in the cooler until the center part of the turkey is no longer frozen and the neck, etc. can be taken out of the turkey which only takes about 30 minutes.   Make sure to put the neck, etc. on a plate and put it into the fridge to use later with stuffing and/or gravy.

    " Now there are " 2 " ways to get your turkey completely cleaned : "

    1.   If you, like I do, have a double sink and they are deep enough to clean your turkey then use it for the below .....

    2.   If your sink isn't big enough continue to use the cooler .....

  •   Let your turkey soak covered in clean water for at least " 6 hours " and change the water " every hour " .....

  •   After the " 6 hours " your turkey will now be clean enough to start the cooking process .....

    If your are not ready to cook the turkey at this point
    then simply cover it up and place it in the refrigerator until you're ready !

         First things first ..... Stuffing an uncooked turkey has, overtime, been proven by the FDA, National Turkey Farmers Associations, and many other health organizations to be an " unsafe way " to cook stuffing ..... so I don't do that anymore ..... but of course that is your personal choice.


  •   1  ~  Your thawed turkey
    ( below " 6 " item used to stuff your turkey with for cooking flavor )  -  ( see Tip # 1 )

  •   1  ~  Small Onion  ~  ( peeled and cut into quarters )

  •   2  ~  Celery Stalks  ~  ( cut in large pieces )

  •   2  ~  Carrots  ~  ( peeled and cut into chunks )  -  ( see Tip # 2 )

  •   1  ~  Small head of Garlic  ~  ( cut in half )

  •   1  ~  Lemon  ~  ( cut in half or quarters )

  •   Fresh Thyme and Sage  ~  ( normally found in produce section )
  •   4  ~  cups of turkey or chicken stock and/or broth

  •   1  ~  Stick of salted butter

  •   Butcher's Twine ( string )  ~  ( to re-truss the legs )

  •   Aluminum Foil  ~  ( unless your have a lid for your pan )


  1.   Pre-heat your oven to 275 o

  2.   Take your turkey and place it on a rack in your pan.
       ( If you don't have a rack you can, of course, still just place it in the bottom of the pan )

  3.   Stuff your turkey with the above noted Ingredients.    ~  ( see Tip # 1 )

  4.   Re-truss the legs and then tuck the wing tips under your turkey.

  5.   Pour your " Stock " into the bottom of the pan for cooking moisture and to later be used for gravy.

  6.   Cover your turkey and cook for 3 - 1/2 hours " basting every hour ".

  7.   Then remove your turkey from the oven and increase the oven temp. to 375 o.

  8.   While oven is increasing in temp. rub the stick of butter over the entire turkey to help with the browning.
      Make sure to get every crevice ....
      ( If the butter is still " cold " it makes this much easier and helps not to burn your hands )

  9.   Put the turkey back into the over " uncovered " and cook for 2 to 2 - 1/2 hours ( basting every 30 minutes )

  10.   After the 2 hours of cooking check the turkey's temp.  ( It should be 185 o or very close )

  11.   Then .....


             These " 6 " items ( Small Onion, Celery Stalks, Carrots, Small head of Garlic, Lemon, & Fresh Thyme and Sage ) should be cut to get as many as possible into the turkey.   Using them will make your turkey gain moisture and flavor.

             Instead of using regular carrots ..... I buy the small pre-peeled carrots and use them.   Since I don't use all of them ..... I put them out with other veggies and ranch dip for folks to enjoy before or during the meal !

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