If you don’t have that much time, place the turkey, still in its packaging, in a clean sink or other large container, cover it with cold water, and change out the water every 30 minutes. This method will take about 30 minutes per pound of turkey to thaw completely, which means a 15-pound bird will take approximately 7 hours 30 minutes. (Timing may vary.) If you have even less time and a small enough bird, you could even go so far as to defrost it in the microwave. (Consult your microwave’s manual for more information on how, and note that the microwave may start to cook the turkey.) If you use either the microwave or the water method, you must be prepared to cook your turkey immediately, according to the USDA.
And remember: “Leaving your meat to thaw on the counter is never, ever a good idea, no matter the temperature of your house or how cold the food feels to the touch,” staff writer Becky Krystal wrote. “Similarly, you should never leave food on your porch or other places outside to thaw. Period.”