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I Forgot To Defrost My Turkey Ahead of Time: Now What?


Turkeys can take days to defrost... But don't worry: you can still save your Thanksgiving feast!

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Turkey is the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving feasts, so we all know the pressures of getting it just right. But what if you didn't start defrosting it early enough?

Moving your turkey from the freezer to the fridge is the best way to defrost it, as it keeps it cold enough to avoid bacteria growth that can lead to food poisoning. But it literally takes days: 1-3 if your turkey is less than 12 pounds, 3-4 if it's between 12 and 16 pounds, 4-5 for birds between 16 and 20 pounds, and as many as 5-6 days if you've picked out a turkey that's 20 to 24 pounds.

Basically, every 4 or 5 pounds of turkey requires approximately 24 hours to defrost.

These figures can strike panic into the heart of a Thanksgiving host when the day is near and you realize you just don't have time. But thankfully, there's another way!

A cold water bath will be able to give you a similar defrost effect in much less time. For this method, you'll need to fill up a sink big enough for your bird to be completely submerged. For every pound of turkey you'll need 30 minutes of thawing.

But here's the catch: the water needs to stay at or beneath 40° F the entire time to avoid risks of bacteria growth or salmonella contamination. That means, if you have an especially large turkey that will take several hours to thaw, you will need to frequently change the water to keep it at a consistent temperature.

While this quick-thaw method isn't as simple as just moving the turkey from one cold storage area to another, it can save your meal in a pinch!

So, do you feel ready for Thanksgiving this year? Have you ever had to quick-thaw your turkey? Let us know in the comments!

Here are 20 Thanksgiving meal prep hacks to make your life so much easier.

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Chef Tips and Tricks

VIDEO: Chicken Quesadillas

These quick and easy chicken quesadillas are the perfect, last-minute family dinner!


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp. of Mexican spice mix
  • 4 Tortillas
  • Cheddar
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Put shredded chicken breast, tomato sauce, chives, and mexican spice mix in a bowl and mix together.
  2. Lay out the tortillas. Place a slice of cheddar in the center, and cover with the chicken mix.
  3. Fold up tortillas, and heat in a frying pan until golden.
  4. Enjoy!

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