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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thawing Your Turkey

Planning ahead is the best way to insure a successful turkey feast starting with proper thawing methods. Here are three techniques for thawing turkey safely:
In the Refrigerator:  Thaw turkey breast side up, in an unopened wrapper on a tray.   Allow at least 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey.    A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking.  Foods properly thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking (unlike cold-water thawing or microwave thawing) but there may be some loss of quality.
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

In Cold Water :  Thaw breast side down, in unopened wrapper, in enough cold water to cover it completely.  Change water every 30 minutes to keep turkey chilled.  A minimum thawing time is 30 minutes per pound for a whole turkey.  Cook immediately and do not refreeze.
 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 
In Microwave:   Follow manufacturer’s instructions for size, minutes per pound and power level when defrosting.  Remove all outside wrapping and place on microwave-safe dish to catch juices.  Plan to cook immediately after thawing as parts of the turkey may begin cooking during microwaving. 
It is not recommended to thaw a Frozen Stuffed Whole Turkey, Frozen Whole Breast Roast in Bag, or Frozen Boneless Roast in Bag. These items conveniently go from freezer to oven with no thawing.  Follow package directions for proper handling and cooking.
Source: USDA