How to thaw frozen turkey: An essential guide to Thanksgiving prep

This Oct. 14, 2013, photo shows a roasted turkey in Concord, N.H. The safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. You'll need about 24 hours per 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving feast is a frozen turkey, it’s time to think about thawing that bird. There are two classic ways to thaw a frozen turkey: let it gently thaw in the fridge or using cold water in your sink or cooler. Letting a turkey thaw on your kitchen counter is a recipe for food-borne illness and that’s really not how you want to spend Black Friday.

The food safety experts over at suggest allowing 24 hours of refrigerator thawing per 4-5 pounds of turkey, which means it could take up to 6 days for a big 24-pound bird to thaw. You can take a glance at our handy chart below to help identify when in 2017 you should begin thawing your turkey.

How to thaw frozen turkey fast

Luckily for you, there’s a safe and easy way to thaw your turkey if you’re out of time for the classic refrigerator method: cold water. It’ll take about 30 minutes for every pound of turkey.

Simply place the bird (still in the wrapper) breast-side down in a sink or cooler full of cold water. If you cannot fully submerge your bird, you’ll want to rotate it every 30 minutes. The food safety experts also suggest changing the water every 30 minutes; you want to to keep the water at 40°F or below.

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