Last Minute Turkey Tip — Thawing Your Frozen Turkey


Proudly showing off my diploma from Butterball University with Jim Higley (left). Check out some of Jim’s writing at

I was at the grocery store today picking up a few odds and ends for our Thanksgiving feast and was really surprised at how many people were just now buying their frozen turkey.  There’s a reason my friends at Butterball recommend you follow the Thursday Thaw rule.  This rule states you should have your Thanksgiving turkey out of the freezer and into the refrigerator on the Thursday BEFORE thanksgiving.  With frozen Turkeys being purchased just a couple days before the big day I thought it might be a good idea to review a few safety tips for thawing out your turkey on short notice.

Never thaw your turkey on the kitchen counter.  Temperatures fall within the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F that promotes active growth of bacteria. If left on a kitchen counter, a frozen turkey will thaw from the outside in. As its surface warms, bacteria multiply. In the time it takes for the entire turkey to thaw, the surface bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels. Cooking may not destroy all bacteria. Some foodborne bacteria produce toxins that withstand heat.

So if you can’t thaw your turkey on the counter and there isn’t enough time to thaw it out in the refrigerator that pretty much leaves either the microwave (we aren’t going there) and using the Cold Water Method.   Make sure your turkey is wrapped well to make sure no water can leak through the wrapping and reach the turkey.  Submerge the turkey in cold tap water.  Use the kitchen sink if it’s deep enough or use an ice chest.  As a last resort of if you’re thawing out multiple turkeys use the bath tub.  Drain and refill with cold water every 30 minutes.  Once the turkey is thawed cook immediately and do not refreeze.  Allow 30 minutes of soaking per pound of turkey.

If you have any questions about thawing your turkey or any other aspect of preparing your turkey you call the the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line and speak to one of the turkey experts who have been trained to answer just about any question at Butterball University.   You can reach a Turkey Talk-Line expert by calling  1-800-BUTTERBALL (800-288-8372).  You can also email them at

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