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It might be time to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey

Thanksgiving is just days away, and if you have a turkey sitting in your freezer, you might need to thaw it now to avoid lots of labor.
It might be time to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey
Posted at 5:50 AM, Nov 17, 2023

Do you have a turkey in your freezer that you're planning to cook for Thanksgiving? Depending on the size of the turkey, it might be time for you to begin thawing your bird. 

Here is a general rule of thumb on when to move your turkey from the freezer to the refrigerator, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture: 

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

SEE MORE: Which Thanksgiving foods you should never feed to your dog

But let's say you missed the deadline. Now what? There is a way to thaw the turkey using water, but it does require some labor. 

According to the USDA, after placing the turkey in a water-tight bag, submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Then, change the water every 30 minutes until thawed. 

Here is how long it takes to thaw a turkey using water:

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

Once a turkey is thawed, the USDA says a turkey must be cooked within one to two days before becoming contaminated.

As a reminder, turkeys need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. 


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