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ON YOUR SIDE: How soon should you start thawing your Thanksgiving turkey?

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Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:00 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Turkey is a traditional and delicious part of the Thanksgiving celebration. If you plan to cook one, you may need to start preparing as soon as Friday.

Experts at Foodsafety.gov offer tips for thawing and cooking turkeys properly ahead of Thanksgiving to avoid foodborne illnesses.

According to the experts, you should thaw a turkey in a refrigerator set to 40°F or below for about 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds. If your bird weighs more than 20 pounds, you should start thawing in the fridge on Friday, Nov. 19.

Recommendations for thawing turkeys in the refrigerator:

4 to 12 pounds: Thaw in fridge 1 to 3 days

12 to 16 pounds: Thaw in fridge 3 to 4 days

16 to 20 pounds: Thaw in fridge 4 to 5 days

20 to 24 pounds: Thaw in fridge 5 to 6 days

If you’re running short on time, you can speed up the thawing process with the cool water method.

When it comes to cool water thawing, allow about 30 minutes per pound, changing the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. A turkey thawed in cold water should be cooked immediately.

Recommendations for thawing turkeys in cool water:

4 to 12 pounds: Thaw in water 2 to 6 hours

12 to 16 pounds: Thaw in water 6 to 8 hours

16 to 20 pounds: Thaw in water 8 to 10 hours

20 to 24 pounds: Thaw in water 10 to 12 hours

After properly thawing, turkeys should be cooked immediately at a temperature of 325°F.

Experts recommend the following times for cooking your turkeys:

4 to 6 pounds: Breast: unstuffed 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours

6 to 8 pounds: Breast: unstuffed 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours; stuffed 3 to 3 1/2 hours

8 to 12 pounds: Unstuffed 2 3/4 to 3 hours; stuffed 3 to 3 1/2 hours

12 to 14 pounds: Unstuffed 3 to 3 3/4 hours; stuffed 3 1/2 to 4 hours

14 to 18 pounds: Unstuffed 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours; stuffed 4 to 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds: Unstuffed 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours; stuffed 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours

20 to 24 pounds: Unstuffed 4 1/2 to 5 hours; stuffed 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

For more information on turkey preparation, CLICK HERE.

For guidance on safe celebrations from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, CLICK HERE.

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