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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

TURKEY WEIGHT (lbs.) IN THE 'FRIDGE COLD WATER*
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.