Since we home cooks only cook turkey a couple of times a year it’s hard to remember how long it takes to thaw and cook your turkey. Butterball is always your best source and this year they have added a special “Turkey App” to make sure your special Thanksgiving Day dinner isn’t a flop.
Turkey Thawing and Cooking Times Q & A
Turkey Q & A’s
Q: How long does it take to thaw a turkey?
A: You have a few options when it comes to thawing a turkey. The Butterball site gives you a calculator to give you your options depending on how much time you have left.
12-pound turkey takes 3 days to thaw in the refrigerator but only 6 hours if you thaw it in cold water
Q: How do you thaw a turkey in the refrigerator?
A: Thaw breast side up, in an unopened wrapper on a tray in the fridge. Allow at least 1 day of thawing for every 4 lbs.
Q: How do you thaw it in cold water?
A: Thaw breast side down, in an unopened wrapper, with enough cold water to cover your turkey completely.
Change water every 30 minutes to keep the turkey chilled.
Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per lb.
Q: How do I brine a turkey?
A: The first step in the process is selecting your brine recipe. Next buy a fresh turkey to eliminate the need to thaw, or completely thaw a frozen turkey.
- The night before roasting, remove the giblets and turkey neck. Rinse the turkey inside and out.
- Prepare your brine. Be sure to mix ingredients until all of the salt is dissolved. If your brine is heated, be sure to cool it to room temperature before brining.
- Place your turkey, breast down, in a large container made of food-grade plastic, stainless steel, glass, or a brining bag. Be sure the container will fit in your fridge.
- Add brine, covering the entire turkey.
- Place in the refrigerator for the specified period of time.
- Remove turkey from brine after recommended time. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Cook turkey as desired.
Turkey Thawing Time
- 12 lb turkey 3 days refrigerator 6 hours cold water method
- 16 lb turkey 4 days, 8 hours cold water method
- 20 lb turkey 5 days, 10 hours cold water method
- 25 lb turkey 6 days plus 6 hours, 12 hours cold water method
Q: What can I make with all of the turkey leftovers?
A: Most recipes that call for chicken can usually use turkey as a substitute. Turkey Sandwiches, Turkey Noodle Soup, and Turkey Pot Pie are the most popular options.
Turkey Cooking Times
Roasting a Turkey from Butterball
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels.
- Place turkey breast-side up on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2½ inches deep.
- Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. (Tucking the wings will help stabilize the turkey in the pan and when carving) Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil or butter for best appearance and taste.
- Insert a meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh without touching the bone. When the thigh is up to temperature, and if the turkey is stuffed, move the thermometer to the center of the stuffing.
- Place your turkey in the oven.
- When the turkey is about ⅔ done, loosely cover breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of foil to prevent overcooking.
- Your turkey is done when the temperature with a meat thermometer is 180° F in the thigh and 165° F in breast or stuffing.
- Lift turkey onto a platter, and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.
Weight Unstuffed Stuffed
4½-7 lbs. 2-2½ hrs. 2¼-2¾ hrs.
7-9 lbs. 2½-3 hrs. 2¾-4½ hrs.
9-18 lbs. 3-3½ hrs. 3¾-4½ hrs.
18-22 lbs. 3½-4 hrs. 4½-5 hrs.
22-24 lbs. 4-4½ hrs. 5-5½ hrs.
24-30 lbs. 4½-5 hrs. 5½-6¼ hrs.
More options from Butterball here
Turkey Left Over Recipes
Thanksgiving Crafts to Keep the Kids & Grandkids Busy