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Chapter 3. Thawing a Frozen Turkey

 
Rule #5: Never thaw the bird at room temperature
unless using the cold-water method (see below).

Rule #6: Allow several days for the bird to thaw.
It takes 3-4 days to thaw in the refrigerator, the method most recommended.

Turkey

Thawing Methods:

  • Recommended: Thawing in the Refrigerator
    Leave the bird in its original wrapping and place it on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow 5 hours per pound or 3-4 days for a 14-19 pound turkey to defrost.
  • "Quick" Thawing:
    Place turkey in its original wrapping in sink and cover with COLD water. Change the water every 1/2 hour to maintain the temperature. Allow 1/2 hour per pound to defrost the turkey. Most turkeys will take from 5 to 10 hours to thaw.
  • Microwave Thawing: NOT RECOMMENDED
    Microwave ovens do not heat evenly, and they also heat quicker along the bone. Microwave thawing of a turkey is generally not recommended.

Turkey Thawing Time in the Refrigerator (40 degrees F):
Approximately 24 hours per 5 pounds

Whole Turkey Weight Thawing Time
8 to 12 lbs 1 to 2 days
12 to 16 lbs 2 to 3 days
16 to 20 lbs 3 to 4 days
20 to 24 lbs 4 to 5 days

Turkey Thawing Time in Cold Water: Approximately 30 minutes per pound.
Change water every 1/2 hour.

Whole Turkey Weight Thawing Time
8 to 12 lbs 4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 lbs 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 lbs 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 lbs 10 to 12 hours

FoodWine's Perfect Turkey Handbook

Preface: Safety Tips Before Cooking

Chapter 1. Buying a Turkey

  • What size turkey should I buy?
  • Is it better to buy one large turkey or two small ones?
  • Should I buy fresh or frozen?
  • What about turkeys that have been injected with fats and seasonings?
  • What about turkey parts and frozen stuffed turkeys?

Chapter 2. Storing an Uncooked Turkey

  • How long can a whole turkey be kept frozen?
  • How long can a fresh turkey be kept refrigerated?

Chapter 3. Thawing a Frozen Turkey

  • Thawing Rules
  • Thawing Methods
  • Turkey Thawing Charts

Chapter 4. Stuffing (or Not Stuffing) a Turkey

  • Is it best to cook the stuffing inside the bird, or separately in a baking dish?
  • If I do want to stuff the bird, what's the best way to do it?
  • How much stuffing do I need?
  • Do I need to close up the cavity after it has been stuffed?

Chapter 5. Preparing the Turkey for Roasting

  • Preparations Step-by-Step
  • Stuffing & Trussing
  • Do I need to truss the bird's legs, or can I just roast it the extra effort?

Chapter 6. Roasting the Turkey

  • Roasting Step-by-Step
  • How do I keep the breast meat moist when cooking?

Chapter 7. How to Tell When It's Done

  • Use a Meat Thermometer
  • My turkey comes with a plastic pop-up timer. Can't I use that instead?
  • How accurate are "recommended cooking times"?
  • How can I tell when the turkey is done?
  • USDA Timetable for Turkey Roasted at 325 degrees F.

Chapter 8. Making the Gravy

  • Rules for Making Gravy
  • Making the Basic Gravy
  • Additions to Gravy

Chapter 9. Carving the Bird

  • Basic Carving steps
  • Removing the Thigh, Drumstick & Wings
  • Carving the breast

Chapter 10. Storing Leftovers & Food Safety After Cooking

  • Storing leftovers
  • Reheating leftovers

Thanksgiving

FoodWine's Perfect Turkey Handbook
Using a Meat Thermometer

 
 

This page modified November 2006


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