Talking Thanksgiving turkey tips: How to properly thaw a turkey


From Thanksgiving newbies to old pros, how to properly thaw a turkey is one of the most important parts of the Thanksgiving feast. Do you know how to do it?

Turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving table. For many of us, the prized bird arrives at our homes frozen. Just to be clear, you can’t cook a frozen turkey. Let me clarify, to have a tasty turkey, you don’t cook a frozen turkey. Knowing how to properly thaw a turkey is key to a delicious turkey feast.

Turkey tips, thaw a turkey, photo provided by ThermoWorks

Did you know that a turkey should have an internal temperature of 30-40°F before it goes into the oven? That’s right, you should check the turkey’s internal temperature prior to cooking. If a turkey’s internal temperature is between 30-40°F, the turkey is thawed. But what is the best way to thaw a turkey?

A turkey can be thawed in two ways. The two ways are defrosting in a refrigerator or defrosting in water. While everyone has their own opinion, the recommended way is thawing in the refrigerator.

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The rule of thumb for defrosting in a refrigerator is “1 day for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.” Basically, you do the math (yes, there’s math). If you have a 16 pound turkey, the thawing takes about four days.

Usually the bottom shelf is a good place to let the turkey defrost. Even after the turkey is fully defrosted, it can stay in the refrigerator thawed for three days. ThermoWorks, the professional thermometer that cooks love, recommends that the turkey go in the refrigerator the Saturday before Thanksgiving. With the extra time, there should be no frozen birds on Thanksgiving morning.

If you didn’t plan far enough ahead, defrosting a turkey in water is the faster alternative. The rule for water defrosting is “30 minutes per pound.” But, this defrosting method takes more care. The defrosting water needs to stay at a constant 40 degrees. Also, the turkey needs to stay “covered by 1-2 inches of water.” Lastly, make sure that your turkey is wrapped while defrosting.

Turkey tips, thaw a turkey, photo provided by ThermoWorks

Granted, if you have a frozen turkey on Wednesday night, water defrosting is your only option. The only issue is making sure that the turkey is thawed without unwrapping it. Take your thermometer, like the Thermoworks Thermapen, and poke it through the wrapping. The thermometer needs to read 30-40°F to be properly thawed.

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With these turkey tips, you can properly thaw a turkey. This post is just one of our series of talking turkey 101. We will be sharing all types of turkey tips to help make this Thanksgiving dinner your best one yet.

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