Do you have a turkey in your freezer that you're preparing to cook for Thanksgiving? Depending on the size of the turkey, it might be time for you to begin thawing the bird.
Here is a general rule of thumb on when to move your turkey from the freezer to the refrigerator, according to the USDA:
- 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
But let's say you missed the deadline. Does that mean you'll have to wait until Thanksgiving to cook the turkey. There is a way to thaw the turkey using water, but it does require some labor.
According to the USDA, after placing the turkey in a water-tight bag, submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Then, change the water every 30 minutes until thawed.
Here is how long it takes to thaw a turkey using water:
- 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
Once a turkey is thawed, the USDA says that a turkey must be cooked within one to two days before becoming contaminated.
As a reminder, turkeys need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.