November is here, and the countdown to Thanksgiving is underway. Many of you have started your holiday meal planning, but hopefully the following will serve as a helpful guide.

Buying a Turkey: For a frozen turkey, allow 1 lb. per person, and keep frozen until ready to thaw. For a fresh turkey, allow 1 lb. per person, and buy 1-2 days before cooking. Do not buy pre-stuffed.

Thawing a Turkey: Thawing time of a whole turkey in the refrigerator (40 degrees F) is approximately 24 hours per pound.

Whole Turkey Refrigerator Thawing Guide:

8 to 12 pounds = 1 to 2 days

12 to 16 pounds = 2 to 3 days

16 to 20 pounds = 3 to 4 days

20 to 24 pounds = 4 to 5 days

Thawing time of a whole turkey in cold water is approximately 30 minutes per pound.

Whole Turkey Thawing in Cold Water Guide:

8 to 12 pounds = 4 to 6 hours

12 to 16 pounds = 6 to 8 hours

16 to 20 pounds = 8 to 10 hours

20 to 24 pounds = 10 to 12 hours

Please note that it is very important that the water is changed every 30 minutes. After thawing, remove neck and giblets from both neck and body cavities, wash turkey inside and out with cold water, drain well. Thawed turkey may remain in refrigerator 1-2 days.

Thawing in the microwave: Check manufacturer’s instructions for the size turkey that will fit into your oven, the minutes per pound and the power level to use for thawing. Cook immediately.

Roasting Time: Timetable for fresh or thawed unstuffed turkey is 325 degrees F. These times are approximate and should be used in conjunction with a properly placed thermometer.

Roasting Time Guide for Fresh or Thawed Unstuffed Turkey:

8 to 12 pounds = 2 3/4 to 3 hours

12 to 14 pounds = 3 to 3 3/4 hours

14 to 18 pounds = 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds = 4 1/2 to 5 hours

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: For food safety reasons, remember to prepare dressing in a separate container rather than stuffing the turkey.

Liz Buckner is a county extension agent for Rusk County.

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Liz Buckner is a county extension agent for Rusk County.


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