Friday marks National Thaw Day, and if you have a turkey in your freezer that you're preparing to cook for Thanksgiving, 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture, after placing the turkey in a water-tight bag, you can 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 must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.