While planning the holidays, you may question the best way to cook Thanksgiving dinner. Buying your turkey early and keeping it frozen before cooking can be a great way to avoid the holiday rush at the grocery store. Of course, when you're ready to prepare dinner, you'll want to make sure the turkey is totally thawed out so that it's easier to prepare. One of the easiest ways to thaw your holiday bird before cooking is to remove the turkey from the freezer and allow it to rest in the fridge.
The USDA informs us that the size of the turkey will impact how long you need to thaw it out in the refrigerator. As a general rule, you'll want about a pound of turkey per guest. Every 4 to 5 pounds of poultry will need to thaw in the fridge for 24 hours. So, if your turkey is on the smaller side at only 4 pounds, you may only need a day to thaw it out. However, if the poultry is closer to 16 pounds, you may need closer to four full days.
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Why Is Fridge Thawing Recommended?
Thawing the frozen turkey in the fridge is also the safest method. The cold temperatures of the refrigerator will allow the poultry to warm up from frozen, but it will stay at a cool, consistent temperature. This can ward off harmful bacteria that could present itself if the turkey is left to thaw out at room temperature.
You will want to time the thawing accordingly to ensure your turkey stays fresh. Once completely thawed out, it will remain safe in the fridge for one to two days. So, if your turkey needs to thaw for three days, you can start the process no sooner than five days before you plan to cook it.
You'll want to leave the turkey in the fridge for as long as possible until it's time to prepare it to cook. At room temperature, bacteria like salmonella can begin to grow and contaminate the food. Colder temperatures keep bacteria growth at bay, and heating the turkey to an internal temperature of at least 165 F can kill the bacteria entirely.
There Are A Few Other Ways To Thaw Turkey
Although thawing a frozen turkey in the fridge is the recommended method, there are a few different ways to bring that poultry up to temperature a little more quickly. You can also dunk it in cold water, swapping the water out every half hour. The cool water could keep the turkey at a safe temperature as it thaws out. You'll want to add 30 minutes to the thawing time for every pound of meat.
For the quickest defrosting method, you can pop the poultry right in the microwave. Many appliances have defrosting buttons that calculate heating time based on weight, although six minutes per pound is recommended. This method is not recommended for larger turkeys since you may have difficulty fitting the food inside the microwave. But for a smaller bird, the microwave is a safe way to save some time.
When defrosting the turkey in cold water or the microwave, you'll want to cook the poultry immediately after thawing. If you want to prepare and cook the turkey while it's still frozen, that method is safe, too. You'll just need to allow the dish a little extra cooking time to ensure it's heated thoroughly.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.