How to Thaw a Frozen Smoked Turkey

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Smoked turkey provides a change from roasted turkey.
Smoked turkey provides a change from roasted turkey. (Image: turkey image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com)

A smoked turkey is completely cooked, just as a smoked ham is completely cooked. Smoked turkeys are usually smaller than turkeys that are roasted or baked. The flavor of a smoked turkey is sweet, succulent and, of course, smoky. Well prepared, the turkey is juicy and shows the tell-tale rim of pink meat under the skin -- that's a sign of proper smoking. Serve the defrosted turkey in sandwiches with cranberry mayonnaise. Simply mix cranberry sauce into the mayonnaise.

Things You'll Need

  • Roasting pan
  • Refrigerator
  • Sink
  • Cold water
  • Microwave-safe dish
  • Microwave

Refrigerator

Leave the turkey in its bag from the store or when it was delivered. Place it in a shallow roasting pan in the bottom of the refrigerator. Plan on four hours of fridge time for each pound of turkey. For example a 12-lb. turkey would defrost in about 48 hours -- two days. Plan on an extra day in the refrigerator because temperatures vary.

Remove the turkey from the bag and gently press on the breast and the leg. The flesh should give, rather than be hard, if the turkey is defrosted. If you're not sure whether the turkey is completely defrosted, make a cut between the thigh and the breast to check.

Loosely cover the turkey with foil and put it in a warm oven -- heated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit -- to finish defrosting. If the turkey is almost defrosted and you plan to serve it hot, place it in an oven heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the turkey is warmed through.

Water

Leave the turkey in the bag. Place the bag in a sink of cold water. Put the turkey in a food cooler filled with cold water if you don't want to use the sink.

Turn the turkey over if part of it isn't covered by the water. It should take from four to seven hours to thaw. Heavier turkeys take more time than lighter turkeys.

Test to see if the turkey is done as described in the previous section.

Microwave

Remove the turkey from the bag. Place it in a dish safe for the microwave. If your microwave oven has a defrost cycle, set it for the weight of the turkey. If there is no defrost cycle, use the 50-percent power setting for 2 1/2 minutes per lb. If the turkey weights 12 lbs., that would be 30 minutes.

Turn the turkey over and set the microwave again at 50-percent power for another 2 1/2 minutes per lb. For a 12-lb. turkey, that would be an additional 30 minutes.

Let the turkey rest for 10 minutes. Cut between the thigh and the breast to see if it's completely defrosted. If it's not, put it back in the microwave at 50 percent power for another five minutes. Heat the turkey in a conventional oven or slice it and serve cold.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not use hot water to defrost the turkey. Hot water defrosts the outside of the turkey and the flesh gets warm while the inside is still frozen. The warm, defrosted flesh is subject to spoiling.

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