turkey.jpg image on bigy.com

Let's Talk Turkey

As the holidays approach, many people begin to ask those all important questions – How big of a turkey do I buy? Do I buy a fresh or frozen turkey? How big of a turkey do I need? How do I store it?
These and many more are the typical questions that millions of people think about each year when getting ready for that all important holiday meal.

What size to buy

Types
Amount per person
Whole bird
1 pound
Boneless Breast of Turkey
1/2 pound
Breast of Turkey
3/4 pound
Prestuffed frozen turkey
Keep frozen until ready to cook
1 1/4 pounds

When deciding how big of turkey to buy, consider the following:

Fresh vs. Frozen

One of the first questions a person ask themselves is what kind of turkey do I want this year? Do I want a fresh or a frozen turkey? If you want to buy a turkey that is already stuffed, frozen is the only way to go. If you plan on stuffing it yourself, you can go with either fresh or frozen. It will all depend on how much time you have to thaw a frozen turkey. If you are short on time and are buying your turkey the day before cooking it, fresh it is, but if you are buying in advanced, frozen is the best way to go.

Thawing

When thawing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, follow these guidelines: Remember – thaw in a refrigerator set at 40ºF – allow 24 hours per 4-5 pounds

Weight
Thawing Time
4-12 lbs
1 to 3 days
12-16 lbs
3 to 4 days
16-20 lbs
4 to 5 days
20-24 lbs
5 to 6 days

Keep the turkey in the original wrapper. Place it on a tray or use a pan to catch any juices that may leak. Once thawed, it can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.

If short on time, you can also thaw the turkey in cold water. Wrap the bird securely and submerge it in cold water. Make sure to change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after thawed. Do not refreeze. Make sure you allow enough time for the turkey to thaw before cooking.

30 minutes per pound

Weight
Thawing Time
4-12 lbs
2 to 6 hours
12-16 lbs
6 to 8 hours
16-20 lbs
8 to 10 hours
20-24 lbs
10 to 12 hours

You can also thaw a turkey in the microwave, but there are certain guidelines that must be followed. The first is to check the manual for your microwave to see what size turkey will fit in your microwave, the minutes per pound and the power level. Next, remove all the outer wrappings. Place the turkey in a microwave safe dish. Cook immediately after thawing.

Remember: Remove the giblets before cooking any turkey.

Roasting

Here are some tips for cooking that turkey.

Cooking times

Unstuffed

Weight
Cooking Time
4 to 8 lbs (breast)
1 1/2 to 3 1/4 hours
8 to 12 lbs
2 3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 lbs
3 to 3 3/4 hours
18 to 20 lbs
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 lbs
4 1/2 to 5 hours

Stuffed

Weight
Cooking Time
6 to 8 lbs (breast)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours
8 to 12 lbs
3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 lbs
3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 lbs
4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
18 to 20 lbs
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 lbs
4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

Hints:

For answers to any questions you may have, please call:
USDA Meat and Poultry Hot line 1-888-MPHotline (674-6854)
or 1-800 Butterball (288-8372)