Here’s When You Have to Put Your Turkey in the Fridge to Thaw Based on Its Weight

Alright, guys, it’s crunch time. If you haven’t already planned your Thanksgiving menu, you don’t have much time left. While we can help you out with heaps of great recipes on everything from creamy mashed potatoes to pumpkin pie, there is one thing we can’t do for you.

Defrost your turkey.

The turkey is clearly the star of the show on Thanksgiving Day. It really just isn’t the same if you don’t have a huge bird to carve when everyone sits down to dinner. If you haven’t already bought your turkey, get on it already.

Assuming you’re buying a frozen turkey, you’ll want to store it in the freezer as soon as you bring it home. Don’t store it anywhere else. It needs to stay frozen. We don’t care if there’s snow on your front porch, the freezer is the safest place.

Once you get that turkey home, you need to know when to start defrosting it. This all depends on how much your turkey weighs. If you’re buying a 20+ pound turkey the Friday before Thanksgiving, you can skip the freezer, folks. Put that bird straight into the refrigerator to start defrosting it.

If you have a small turkey, say in the 16-20 pound range, you can wait until the Saturday before Thanksgiving to start defrosting. An even smaller bird, ranging from 12-16 pounds means that you can leave you bird in the freezer until the Sunday before Thanksgiving. If your turkey is only in the 4-12 pound range (do 4 pound turkeys really exist?), you can wait until the Monday before Thanksgiving to stick it in the refrigerator.

When defrosting your turkey in the refrigerator, it’s best to put it in a large dish on the bottom shelf so you can prevent any turkey juices from leaking out.

If you don’t have room for an entire turkey in your refrigerator, there are 2 other safe ways to defrost your bird. With both of the following methods, you’ll need to cook the turkey as soon as it is defrosted. The advantage to defrosting the turkey in the refrigerator is that you can wait 1-2 days after it’s completely defrosted before sticking it the oven or deep fryer.

For the cold water method, stick your bird in a well-sealed plastic bag, and submerge the entire thing in cold water for 30 minutes per pound. So, if you have a 20-pound turkey, that’s 10 hours.

Another safe method is to use your microwave, that is if you have a microwave that’s big enough to fit your turkey inside. Simply follow the microwave directions for thawing food.

For more details about how to properly defrost your turkey, watch the video below.

How big is your Thanksgiving turkey? Which defrosting method do you plan to use?