Turkeys are the centerpiece of a Christmas feast, but you need to plan ahead so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute waiting for a frozen bird to thaw. Improper thawing (i.e. on the kitchen counter) can lead to food-borne illness – not a welcome supper guest.
First, calculate how much turkey you’ll need. For a whole turkey, the rule is one pound per person plus extra if you want leftovers. You can plan for one third to one half pound per person for a boneless turkey.
Instructions on frozen pre-stuffed turkeys usually require you to cook the turkey from the frozen state; follow the directions.
There are two methods to thaw your turkey safely and (relatively) quickly. These instructions are for unstuffed turkeys.
The refrigerator method is the easiest and requires the least amount of effort. With the turkey in its original wrapping, place it on a tray and put it in the fridge. The downside is that it takes a minimum of 5 hours per pound to properly thaw.
The cold water method will thaw a turkey much faster (at least 1 hour per pound), however, it requires a little more effort. It’s still very easy, though: in a large water-filled container, submerge the turkey in its original package and cover it with a clean damp tea towel. Change the water frequently to keep it very cold. If you can’t supervise the bird overnight, you’ll have to take the turkey out, put it on a tray and return it to the refrigerator.
Either way, once thawed, you can then remove the giblets and neck, cover the turkey with damp paper towels and refrigerate on a tray until it’s time to pop it in the oven. Cook it within 24 hours and enjoy!