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Thawing Turkey

Store raw turkey in its original, unopened wrapper at 40°F or below. For optimum quality, cook fresh whole turkey within 3-4 days of purchase. Immediate freezing is recommended for longer storage (up to 12 months).

Cook thawed turkey immediately.

Here are some other important safety tips:

  • Never partially cook turkey. Finish the cooking once it is started.
  • Remove stuffing from roasted turkey no more than 20 minutes after it is removed from the oven.
  • Don't leave cooked turkey or stuffing at room temperature for more than two hours. Cut all meat from the bones before storing. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as the meal is over.
  • Cooked poultry may be kept refrigerated for three to four days in a covered container. Stuffing and gravy should be used within one to two days.
  • Hands, countertops, and utensils such as knives and cutting boards must be washed thoroughly with hot, soapy water after preparing raw poultry and before use with other foods.

Turkey Thawing Timetable

8-12 lbs. 1-2 days 4-6 hours
12-16 lbs. 2-3 days 6-9 hours
16-20 lbs. 3-4 days 9-11 hours
20-24 lbs. 4-5 days 11-12 hours
* Change water every 30 minutes.

For microwave thawing, be sure to check your microwave manufacturer's instructions for defrosting turkey. Remove turkey from the original package, and place on a microwave safe dish to thaw.