JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Note: The video above is from a related report.)
Thanksgiving is less than one week away, and the centerpiece of most Americans' Thanksgiving feast is, of course, the turkey.
Whether you enjoy your bird roasted or deep-fried, brined or basted, light meat or dark meat, turkey is the main course for 88% of Thanksgiving meals. And, if you purchased your turkey frozen from the grocery store, the time is drawing near for you to begin the process of thawing it safely.
Butterball's Online Turkey Talk-Line offers advice for every step of preparing your Thanksgiving turkey, from shopping for a turkey, thawing, prepping, through to cooking, carving and what to do with the leftovers. Their advice is to begin thawing about a week before you plan to start cooking.
There are two methods Butterball recommends for thawing: in the refrigerator, which is less labor-intensive but requires more time; and cold water thawing, which takes less time but requires more attention.
Never thaw a turkey at room temperature, Butterball says.
For refrigerator thawing, follow these steps from Butterball:
- Thaw turkey breast side up, in an unopened wrapper on a tray in the fridge (40 degrees Fahrenheit or below).
- Allow at least one day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey.
- Keep turkey in original wrapper and place on tray.
- Use turkey within four days after thawing.
To thaw in cold water, follow these steps:
- Thaw turkey breast side down, in an unopened wrapper, with enough cold water to cover your turkey completely.
- Change water every 30 minutes and if turkey cannot be completely covered, rotate every 30 minutes to keep the turkey chilled.
- Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per pound of turkey.
How many days it will take your turkey to thaw depends on its weight. You can follow the handy guide below, or click here for a calculator depending on your turkey's weight and which method you plan to use.
Typically, you should wait one day for every four pounds of meat. For example, if your turkey is eight pounds, it should thaw for two days. If your turkey is 20 pounds, it should thaw for five days.
The average turkey is 15 pounds, which will take three days and 18 hours to thaw.
A thawed turkey may be kept in the refrigerator (at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below) up to four days before cooking, according to Butterball.