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Here's your friendly reminder to thaw your turkey

The days leading up to Thanksgiving can be a bit chaotic.

While you're running around making sure you have everything on your grocery list, while also making sure traffic does not ruin your travel plans, there is one big thing you must not forget: thawing your turkey.  

It is crucial to give your bird enough time to defrost and there are a few methods you can use to do so. 

The Refrigerator Method

First is what the UDSA calls the "Refrigerator Method." This means moving your turkey from the freezer to the fridge.

If you choose this method, allow one day of thawing time for every four pounds of turkey. 

We've done the math for you: 

  • 4 pounds – 1 day to thaw
  • 8 pounds – 2 days to thaw 
  • 12 pounds – 3 days to thaw
  • 16 pounds – 4 days to thaw

The USDA recommends thawing your turkey in the refrigerator because it is the safest way; it keeps your turkey at a consistent, safe temperature. 

The Cold Water Method

For this method, leave the turkey it in its original wrapping and submerge it in the sink or a container full of water. The water must be cold so the turkey stays at a safe temperature. You should also change the water every 30 minutes. 

If you opt for the "Cold Water Method," allow 30 minutes of soak time for every pound of turkey. 

  • 4 pounds – 1 hour to thaw
  • 8 pounds – 4 hours to thaw 
  • 12 pounds – 6 hours to thaw
  • 16 pounds – 8 hours to thaw 

The Cold Water Method must be done immediately before you start cooking your turkey, so it must wait until Thanksgiving morning. 

The Microwave Method

The third method you can use to thaw your bird is the "Microwave Method." 

The first thing you need to check is that your turkey can even fit. If it does, move onto the next step: using your owner's manual to look at the minutes per pound and power level to use when defrosting your turkey. 

Remove all outside wrapping and place the turkey in a microwave-safe dish. The USDA recommends about six minutes per pound when thawing in the microwave. Be sure to rotate it several times and even flip it during the thawing process. 

Should your turkey start to actually cook, let it rest for a few minutes before you continue thawing. 

What NOT to do

We didn't know these needed to be said, but here are a few methods the USDA does not recommend using: 

  • Thawing a turkey on the counter, in the garage or on the back porch
  • Thawing a turkey in a brown paper grocery bag or plastic garbage bag
  • Using the dishwasher to thaw a turkey 

If you find your turkey is still a bit frozen when you wake up on Thanksgiving day, do not fret. The USDA says it is perfectly safe to cook a turkey from frozen, but allow extra time for it to cook. 


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