How long does it take to thaw a turkey?

How to safely thaw a turkey.

Don’t wait until last minute to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey! Give it plenty of time to thaw in the refrigerator!

A common mistake when preparing for Thanksgiving dinner is now allowing enough time for a turkey to thaw. The best way to thaw a frozen turkey is to store it in the refrigerator. Fight BAC® advises, you will need to allow 24 hours for each four to five pounds of turkey. So for a 12 pound turkey, it will take about three days in the refrigerator to thaw. And for a 20 pound turkey, that equates to five days! After thawing, the turkey can remain in the refrigerator for one or two days before cooking it.

So what do you do if you don’t have that amount of time to thaw your turkey? There are a couple of safe alternatives, but a big don’t is to thaw the turkey on the counter. Michigan State University Extension says, thawing at room temperature provides time for bacteria to multiply in the turkey which could cause a foodborne illness from anyone consuming the turkey.

One alternative is to thaw the turkey in cold water. Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound. Change the water every 30 minutes to make sure that water remains cold. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.

Another way to thaw the turkey is to use the microwave oven. Remove all outside wrapping before microwaving and place a microwave save plate under the turkey to catch juices. You will need to cook the turkey immediately after thawing.

Finally, you can cook your turkey from the frozen state. You will need to allow extra time for the turkey to cook using this method. Remove all wrappings and take out any gravy packets or giblets stored in the turkey’s body cavity.

Remember, the minimum internal cooking temperature for determining when the turkey is done is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a food thermometer, take the temperature in several places in the turkey, the thickest part of the breast and in the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. If the turkey is stuffed, the stuffing must also be 165 degrees F. 

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