Nothing beats the smell of a turkey roasting in the oven on Thanksgiving day, its skin a crackling, burnished bronze; its juices, savory and ready to be made into gravy; and its meat, cooked on the outside and…frozen rock solid in the middle? Uh-oh. This Thanksgiving foible is more common than you might imagine, because it can actually take several days – or even an entire week – to thaw your turkey fully before the big day. So how can you be sure that your bird will be ready to go on Thanksgiving? Chrissy Teigen just posted an awesome guide on her Cravings website that tells you exactly what to do.
The guide was published as part of Cravings by Chrissy Teigen’s “Tipsgiving,” a week-long guide to all things Thanksgiving.
Since not all turkeys are created equal, the graphic includes guidelines for how long your turkey needs to thaw based on its weight. A smaller 4-12 pound turkey will take 1 to 3 days to thaw in the fridge, according to the guide, but if you’re cooking a big 20-24 pounder, your turkey might need to come out of the freezer the Friday before Thanksgiving, so it can thaw in the fridge for a full 5 to 6 days before heading to the oven.
And for food safety reasons, you can’t really rely on shortcuts when it comes to your turkey. It should be thawed in the refrigerator, where it will be at a food safe temperature the entire time. Because the bird is so dense, it can take awhile for it to thaw this way – the center of the turkey and the exterior should be the same temperature when they hit the oven for best results.
According to Teigen, you also need to make sure your bird is thawed before attempting a dry or wet brine, as the brine has a harder time penetrating frozen meat. The dry brine she recommends should be applied 2-3 days before Thanksgiving, which means you need to add 2-3 days onto your Turkey’s thawing time if you plan on brining it, so it will be ready.
To properly plan out your Thanksgiving feast, just take a look at the graphic. Determine how many days you’ll need to let your Turkey thaw, and if you decide to brine, add 2 extra days to that number. Add those two numbers together, then work back from Thanksgiving day to find out when you need take your turkey out of the freezer and put it into the fridge. With this method, you’ll never have to worry about reaching into your turkey on Thanksgiving day only to find out it’s still frozen in the middle ever again.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below: