Cooking a turkey can be overwhelming even if you are an experienced cook or if it’s your first turkey. Here are some tips for thawing/cooking a turkey.
- Fresh Turkey: If you buy a fresh turkey, be sure to purchase it only 1-2 days before cooking.
- Frozen Turkey: You can buy a frozen turkey at any time as long as you have enough storage space in your freezer. Remember to cook a frozen turkey within 1 year for best quality.
There are three ways to thaw a turkey safely: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. The best method is in the refrigerator, it is important to plan ahead. The other methods are quicker if needed. You can cook a turkey from the frozen state safely. The cooking time will take 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey.
- In the refrigerator: Place the frozen turkey (leave in the wrapper) on a pan or in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other food. Put in the refrigerator (40 degrees or below) and allow approximately 24 hours per 4-5 pounds. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
- In cold water: If you forget to thaw the turkey or don’t have room in the refrigerator for thawing. Be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water. Submerge the turkey in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Allow about 30 minutes defrosting time per pound of turkey. A turkey thawed in cold water should be cooked immediately.
- In the microwave: Microwave thawing is safe if the turkey is not too large. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the size of turkey that will fit into your microwave oven, the minutes per pound, and the power level to use for thawing. Cook immediately after thawing.