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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Turkey tip: keeping a thawed turkey in the fridge -- how long?

The key to a uniformly cooked turkey is beginning the roasting with a perfectly thawed turkey. Thawing a frozen turkey in the fridge is difficult to time right. I may think I've allowed the proper amount of time, only to have parts of the bird still icy on roasting day.

The way around that is to begin thawing it in the fridge, a day or two before you might usually begin. A thawed turkey can remain in the fridge, up to 4 days, according to Butterball. Personally, I prefer to roast it within 2 days, as I think the flavor is better, roasted sooner rather than later.

BTW, the recommended time for thawing is 1 day for every 4 pounds of turkey (according to  Better get Tom or Thelma into the fridge and start thawing!


  1. I've done some last minute water bath thawing in the sink when I didn't take the turkey out of the freezer on time. However, you must be careful this method also, so best consult Butterball or another authority. No one wants to have food poisoning for Thanksgiving.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      yes, I've had to do some last-minute water bath thawing as well. It still takes some time, but not nearly as long as in the fridge.

      live and learn, I know that you likely follow all the suggestions, but for anyone else who doesn't know how to water thaw, here's what Butterball says. Butterball recommends placing the turkey, still in its original wrapper, in a large container (sink, cooler), breast side down, in COLD water, changing every 30 minutes. If you're starting from a totally frozen turkey, allow 30 minutes per pound of meat.

      For anyone reading the comments, it's extremely important to use only cold water for this type of thawing. Food-borne illness is no fun, really. And no one wants to sicken a whole house full of guests. The problem, especially with a whole turkey is that, we tend to leave the turkey out after roasting, longer than we would a weekday meal, and we work at eating the turkey over several days. Any bacteria that we've allowed to grow on the turkey will have that much of a head-start for the rest of the long weekend.


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