Thanksgiving will be here next week and now is the time to start preparing to thaw that turkey.

Thawing a turkey is the most time consuming part of making a turkey. In most cases, it can take days to thaw. You want to give your bird plenty of time to thaw out before you cook it. As soon as a frozen turkey begins to thaw, bacteria that may have been present before freezing will begin to grow, and room temperature is the perfect environment for that icky stuff to multiply, so thawing a turkey on the counter overnight at room temperature is not recommended by the USDA.

The amount of time it takes to thaw out depends on the size of the turkey itself. Some people, especially first time turkey chefs might not know or realize exactly how long it takes to thaw out. It's actually safe to took a frozen turkey, according to the USDA, but the cooking time will be about 50% longer than it would be if it was thawed...and no one wants to wait that long to eat on Thanksgiving. So the goal of this article is to show you how and when to thaw out your turkey. There are three ways to thaw a turkey that is recommended by the USDA that we will cover.

The best, and easiest way to thaw out your Thanksgiving is by keeping it in the refrigerator. According to the USDA, this is the safest method because the turkey will thaw at a consistent, safe temperature. As stated, the amount of time it takes for it to thaw depends on the size of your bird. You want to allow 1 day in the fridge for every 4 pounds of turkey.

Another way to thaw out your turkey is by submerging it into cold water. According to the USDA, you will want to leave your turkey in its original wrapping and submerge it into a sink or other container full of cold water. But hot water makes sense for it to thaw out, why cold water? Well, you want the water to be cold so that the turkey stays at a safe temperature. This is a little more tedious than thawing it in the refrigerator. You're going to have to change out the water every 30 minutes and replace it with fresh cold water. According to the USDA, with this method, you need to allow 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound. Once the turkey has thawed, cook it immediately!

The third way that you can thaw out your turkey is in your microwave. Obviously if your turkey won't fit inside your microwave, this method won't work for you. Begin by removing all outside wrapping and place the turkey on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak so you don't have a mess. You're going to be using the defrost by weight function on your microwave. Consult your users manual for specifics on that, but the USDA says that the general rule is to allow 6 minutes per pound when thawing a turkey in the microwave. Be sure to rotate it several times, and even flip it, during the thawing process. If it starts cooking instead of defrosting, rest it for 5 minutes or so before you continue thawing it out in the microwave. Once the turkey has thawed you should cook it immediately.

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Here's when you should put your turkey in the refrigerator or cold water to thaw out before Thanksgiving:

Another way you can thaw out your