Defrosting You should ALWAYS thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator—for a max of four to five days. (See our handy table below for how long to thaw your bird.) Leaving on the counter or in a sink full of water to thaw is a quick way to get food poisoning. No thank you. Another tip: Keeping the turkey in its store packaging is great for defrosting. The wrapping it comes in is designed to keep bacteria out and freshness in.
|How Long to Thaw a Turkey
|8 - 12 pounds
||1 - 2 days
|12 - 16 pounds
||2 - 3 days
|16 - 20 pounds
||3 - 4 days
|20 - 24 pounds
||4 - 5 days
Brining Brining is a great shortcut to adding a burst of flavor to any cut of meat, not just your Thanksgiving turkey. Here’s all you need to know about how to brine a turkey.
Dry It Out
Also of critical importance is drying out the turkey. This ensures you get a nice crispy skin during roasting. If you’re jumping ahead and not brining the turkey (no judgment!) unwrap the turkey and remove the giblets. Check both the neck and end cavity. Then you can simply pat dry with paper towels. No need to rinse. For extra-crispness, refrigerate uncovered overnight.
Now, if you’re one of those types who doesn’t like skin, you should still leave it on and pat try. The skin serves as a protective layer to keep your breast meat tender and moist. Simply remove the skin before serving.
If you’re dry brining, your turkey should be ready for the next step.
Stuffing We’re a big fan of skipping this step for a few reasons. 1. Stuffing doesn’t add much flavor to the turkey and can even skew your turkey roasting results: Sometimes the turkey is overcooked by the time your stuffing reaches a food-safe 165°F. It takes a while! 2. Stuffing from inside the turkey is often soggy. 3. You always need more stuffing than is able to fit inside the turkey.
Instead, try our oven-free slow-cooker stuffing. Life changing.
If you must stuff, consider some rough-chopped aromatics: an onion, apple or citrus like lemon or orange. While you won’t eat it, the addition will lend some flavor to your turkey.