Turkey Talk—Skinny Tips for Safely Buying, Storing and Thawing


Tips for Fresh Turkeys:

1. Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.

2. Keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it.  Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.

3. Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly.

Tips for Frozen Turkeys:

1. Keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it.

2. Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer for a long time; however, cook within 1 year for best quality.

Tips for Thawing Your Turkey:

The two ways to thaw your turkey safely are in the refrigerator or in cold water.

1. In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds:

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

Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.

2. In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound:

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

Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

For more information on anything about buying, storing or cooking turkey contact:
Turkey Talk-Line-1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372). The Butterball® Turkey Talk-Line is open annually in November and December.

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