Thinking about Turkey

Last minute thoughts about that Thanksgiving turkey….

We’ve heard crazy ideas from folks on how to thaw a turkey. Everything from putting it in the trunk of the car, to a cooler in the garage to the clothes drier (note: none of these are recommended.) The best place to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator where it takes about 24 hours to thaw each 5 pounds of turkey. A thawed turkey can stay in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking. A 15 pound bird should have about 3 days to thaw while a 20 pound bird would take 4 days to thaw in the refrigerator.

  • If you forgot to thaw the turkey, it can be cooked directly from the frozen state. It’ll take 1 -1/2 to 2 times as long. So if the instructions say 4 hours you better put it in the oven 6 to 8 hours before you will need it if it is frozen. It is a good idea to cover the top with foil when it gets brown.
  • Smaller families and those that prefer white meat may consider roasting just a turkey breast this year. Our recipe data-base has instructions: Roasted Turkey Breast
  • No matter what type of turkey you cook, use a thermometer to insure it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees
As you prepare for the big dinner consider these tradeoffs:
  • By taking the skin off your turkey breast (3 ounces) you can save 28 calories
  • By eating skinless white meat (3 ounces) instead of skin-on dark meat you can save 5 grams of fat and 53 calories.

May you have a happy and healthy holiday.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

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updated on 11-22-2017