Thanksgiving will be here before we know it and since you are here reading this, I am going to bet you are a lot like me and have absolutely no idea how to thaw, prep, or cook a Thanksgiving turkey. No worries, (new) friend! We are going to learn together.

We'll Learn Together

This Thanksgiving I am giving thanks for the internet. Seriously, without having basically an entire universe's worth of information at my fingertips there are a whole lot of things I would not know how to do. Luckily, thanks to Google and my smartphone, I am able to tackle many tasks that I would otherwise be ill-prepared for - like thawing a holiday turkey.

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

My Trusty Friend Google

My trusty friend Google took me to the United States Department of Agriculture website to get the answers we so desperately need. I mean, really. We don't want to accidentally give everyone food poisoning this holiday season. As it turns out, there are three methods to safely thaw a turkey. However, one of those methods is safer than the rest.

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Thawing Your Bird - The Fast Way

You certainly can safely thaw a frozen turkey using the defrost setting on your microwave. You will set the defrost time based on the weight of your bird. You absolutely can also safely thaw a turkey by submerging it in cold water. Just be sure that you change the water every thirty minutes until the bird is thawed. Both of these methods are safe to use but you must cook your turkey immediately after you finish thawing it.

Thawing Your Bird - The Safest Way

If time is in short supply, and you need your Thanksgiving turkey thawed in a hurry, you can use one of the two methods mentioned above. However, although slower, there is a safer way to thaw out your Thanksgiving turkey. The USDA says it is safest to thaw your turkey slowly in the refrigerator, allowing 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. So if you have a twelve-pound piece of poultry, you can expect it to take a solid three days to thaw thoroughly.

Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash

It's Thawed - Now What?

The method you chose to thaw your turkey will determine how long you have to cook it now that it is no longer frozen. Again, if you employ the microwave defrost option or the cold water bath to thaw your turkey, you will need to cook it immediately. If you thaw it in the refrigerator, the USDA says you have a 24 to 48-hour window to cook your turkey.

I Forgot To Thaw My Turkey - Help!

If you didn't plan ahead, or you completely forgot like I probably will, don't panic. The USDA says that it is perfectly safe to cook a frozen turkey. It will just take a little longer.

A solidly frozen turkey will take at least 50 percent longer to cook than a thawed turkey. If your turkey is only partially frozen, remember that it will take a bit longer to cook. Use your food thermometer, and when your bird measures 165˚F in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast, it is ready.

Happy Thanksgiving

Now that you and I both know how to safely thaw our Thanksgiving turkey, we can give thanks again for the power of the internet! Enjoy your dinner, and thank you for being a friend.


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