When to start defrosting the turkey? This is the most asked question at the Butterball hotline (1-800-BUTTERBALL).
Below are some safe-turkey thawing facts taken from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
There are three safe ways to thaw food: refrigerator; cold water; and microwave.
Allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds and don't forget to place the turkey in a container so that the juices don't drip on other foods.
Refrigerator thawing times
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
Cold Water Thawing
Allow about 30 minutes per pound.
Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.
Cold Water thawing times
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
Follow your microwave oven manufacturer’s instruction. A turkey thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately.
My preferred method of defrosting is refrigerator. With everyone’s busy life it is so easy to forget that one step. So if it’s frozen - now is a good time to transfer to the refrigerator.