Here’s the calculation: plan on 24 hours of fridge thawing for every 5 pounds of frozen turkey (for example: budget 4 full days of thawing in the fridge for a 20-pound turkey). Keep the turkey wrapped, and occasionally check to see if the baking sheet or roasting pan needs to be drained.
So, if the turkey weighs 4 to 12 pounds, plan for it to defrost in the fridge for one to three days. If it’s 12 to 16 pounds, make sure it’s placed in the fridge three to four days before the holiday arrives.
You shouldn’t. This might be surprising since many of us have defrosted frozen chicken on the counter at least once, but the answer is a hard “no” when it comes to a full turkey. And in terms of the chicken, you’re really not supposed to thaw it out on the counter anyway.
For starters, proper thaw time is helpful. The website indicates you can thaw turkey in a refrigerator set to 40 °F or below for about 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds, so if your bird is 20 pounds or more, you should start thawing in the fridge November 22.
To thaw a 15-pound bird, you’ll need about a day of thawing in the fridge for every four to five pounds. In other words, plan on at least three to four days for defrosting. If the turkey is closer to 16 pounds, give the bird at least four days to be safe.
Slow: Thaw in the Refrigerator
A 15-pound bird will take about 3 days to thaw completely.
You should never thaw a frozen turkey on the counter at room temperature or in hot water. Under either of those methods, the outer layer of the turkey can sit between the bacteria-breeding temperatures of 40°F and 140 °F for far too long to be safe.
The fastest way to thaw a turkey
By submerging it in ice water, even a 24-pound bird can be defrosted in just 12 hours (Thermoworks says to count on about 8 hours for a 15-pounder).
The simplest way to figure out turkey roasting times is to calculate 13 minutes per pound at 350°F for an unstuffed turkey (that’s about 3 hours for a 12- to 14-lb. turkey), or 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.
The Best Method: How to Defrost a Turkey in the Fridge
The best way to thaw a turkey is to place it in the refrigerator (set to 37°F [3°C]) on a sheet pan with the breast side up. Your turkey will thaw gently and evenly.
According to the Department of Agriculture website, a 4- to 12-pound turkey will take one to three days to defrost completely; a 12- to 16-pound turkey will take three to four days; a 16- to 20-pound turkey four to five days and a 20- to 24-pound turkey five to six days.
If There’s No Time to Thaw
If you’re up against the clock and have no time left for even the “quick” cold-water thaw, then just cook the turkey as it is. It’s perfectly safe to cook a frozen or partially frozen turkey — you just need to allow some extra cooking time.
A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.
It is safe to cook turkey thawed in cold water then put back in the fridge.
Changing of the water is done to prevent possible bacteria growth. Once the turkey is defrosted in water, it must be cooked immediately.
According to the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, you can keep a turkey stored in the freezer up to two years and it’s still safe to cook. … For the best quality, the USDA recommends using the frozen turkey within the first year of storage.
Roast the turkey uncovered at a temperature ranging from 325°F to 350°F. Higher temperatures may cause the meat to dry out, but this is preferable to temperatures that are too low which may not allow the interior of the turkey to cook to a safe temperature.
To achieve that balance, the ideal is to let the bird spend time both covered and uncovered: We recommend covering your bird for most of the cooking time to prevent it from drying out, then removing the cover for the last 30 minutes or so to allow the skin to crisp.
Add water to the roasting pan to keep the turkey from drying out. Grandma always added water to the bottom of the roasting pan, at the start of the cooking. This keeps the bird from drying out.
Thawing turkey in a sink of cold water is faster than thawing in the refrigerator, but it’s not safe to leave it in the sink to thaw overnight. … Your turkey should be completely covered. Change the water every 30 minutes, turning the bag occasionally.
How a Jar of Mayo Helped Us Win Thanksgiving. You can cook a turkey that’s fully thawed, or that’s never been frozen. You can even cook a turkey that is completely frozen.
Thawing Frozen Turkey Breast in the Refrigerator
A 6 or 7-pound turkey breast will take about 1 1/2 days (36 hours) to thaw completely. Again, make sure your the temperature of the fridge is between 37°F and 40°F.
|Turkey Weight||Thawing Time (Refrigerator)||Thawing Time (Cold Water)|
|Up to 12 lbs||1 to 3 days||2 to 6 hours|
|12 to 16 lbs||3 to 4 days||6 to 8 hours|
|16 to 20 lbs||4 to 5 days||8 to 10 hours|
|20 to 24 lbs||5 to 6 days||10 to 12 hours|
Yes, cooking a turkey from frozen or partially frozen is totally safe and is even USDA-approved. … Oven-roasting is the only truly safe way to cook a frozen turkey. Do NOT deep-fry or grill a frozen turkey. Also, it’s best to cook the stuffing separately.
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