Thanksgiving Tips: When to thaw your turkey

Top Stories

FILE – This Nov. 2, 2009, file photo shows a Thanksgiving turkey in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe, File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Nothing is worse than going to prepare the Thanksgiving turkey and finding out your bird is still frozen! These thawing tips could help save the centerpiece of your feast:

THE “BIG THAW

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature during the “big thaw” because as a turkey starts to thaw, any bacteria that may have been present before freezing could begin to grow again.

THREE SAFE WAYS TO THAW

Reminder: If you have a turkey weighing more than 20 pounds it needs to come out of the freezer Friday or Saturday to be ready to cook on Thanksgiving Day.

Refrigerator Thawing

A couple of suggestions to consider:

  • Plan ahead: allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 °F or below.
  • Place the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.

Whole Turkey Thawing Times

  • 4 to 12 pounds — 1 to 3 days
  • 12 to 16 pounds — 3 to 4 days
  • 16 to 20 pounds — 4 to 5 days
  • 20 to 24 pounds —5 to 6 days

A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking.

Cold Water Thawing

  • Allow about 30 minutes per pound.
  • First be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water.
  • Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed.

Whole Turkey Thawing Times

  • 4 to 12 pounds — 2 to 6 hours
  • 12 to 16 pounds — 6 to 8 hours
  • 16 to 20 pounds — 8 to 10 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds — 10 to 12 hours

A turkey thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately.

Microwave Thawing

You can also defrost a turkey in the microwave. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Plan to cook the turkey immediately because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

DOWNLOAD THE APP!

Join our daily newsletter!

Click for latest news and information

TRENDING HEADLINES