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Got Frozen Turkey? Get ready to thaw your Thanksgiving bird

How long it takes to thaw your turkey depends on how heavy the bird is and the method you intend to use.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Each year, about 46 million turkeys are eaten each year for Thanksgiving, making up 88% of the Thanksgiving meals, according to statistics by the University of Illinois.

Perhaps millions of those turkeys that will be cooked next week are frozen and will have to be thawed before it is put in the oven or on the grill. For those who have large turkeys to feed the family, the time to begin thawing that massive bird is fast approaching.

According to Butterball, there are two ways to thaw a turkey. 

The recommended method is to do it in the refrigerator, as it is easier although it takes more time. To thaw the turkey in the refrigerator, simply place the unopened turkey breast-up and wait for it to thaw. The refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees or below.

Typically, you should wait one day for every four pounds of meat. For example, if your turkey is eight pounds, you should wait two days. If your turkey is 20 pounds, you should wait five days.

Most turkeys are 15 pounds, which will take 3 days and 18 hours to thaw. 

The other method for thawing a turkey is using cold water in a sink or pot. There should be enough cold water to cover the turkey completely. The turkey should be placed breast-down. If the turkey cannot be completely covered by water, then the turkey will need to be turned every 30 minutes.

The turkey should be in the cold water every 30 minutes for every pound of turkey to thaw it completely. To ensure the turkey remains chilled, change the water every half-hour.

Butterball has a calculator on its website to help cooks figure out how long they need to thaw their turkey for each of the two methods.

Once thawed, the turkey will still be good for another three to four days before it will need to be frozen again. If it needs to be refrozen, it can be unthawed again by using either the refrigerator method or cold water method.