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Turkey Food Safety

As you gather to enjoy delicious food with friends and family during the holiday season, make sure to keep food safety at the top of your checklist.

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Guide to Thawing a Turkey
In the Refrigerator
(Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds)
4 to 12 pounds
1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds
3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds
4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds
5 to 6 days

Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.
In Cold Water
(Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound)
4 to 12 pounds
2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds
6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds
8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds
10 to 12 hours

Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.
Source: USDA

Timetable for Roasting a Turkey
Un-stuffed Turkey ( 325 F Oven Temperature)
4 to 8 pounds (breast)
1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds
2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds
3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds
3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours
Stuffed
4 to 6 pounds (breast)
Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast)
 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds
3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds
3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours

Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.
Source: USDA

Roasting a Turkey

  • Oven temperature should be no lower than 325 F.
  • Stuffing the turkey is not recommended. The bird will roast more evenly and be juicer with a little seasoning and butter or oil rubbed in the cavity and under the skin. Cook the stuffing on the stovetop for great results.
  • Even if the turkey you are cooking has a pop-up temperature indicator, you should always use a meat thermometer to ensure that the innermost part of the turkey is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 F.

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