Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and people in Illinois who plan on putting together this year's Thanksgiving meal need to know the proper and safe way to make a turkey. That starts with properly thawing it.

Homemade Roasted Thanksgiving Day Turkey with all the Sides

The amount of people you plan on feeding is probably reflected in the size of your turkey in your freezer. If you have a massive bird, you might want to get that bad boy in the fridge sooner than later.

Proper Ways To Thaw Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Luckily for us, we have solid guidelines when it comes to food safety in the U.S. thanks to the folks at the USDA. They have laid out the proper ways to make sure your turkey doesn't kill anyone when they eat it.

attachment-Illinois Thawing Turkey

There are three different methods of thawing a turkey including in the refrigerator, using cold water, or popping it in the microwave. Whichever method you use, follow these steps and timelines to ensure a happy and safe Thanksgiving feast.

Refrigerator Thawing

attachment-Illinois Thawing Turkey (1)

When thawing a turkey in the refrigerator, plan ahead and allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40°F or below. Place the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.

Refrigerator Thawing Times(Whole turkey):

  • 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

A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking. Foods thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking but there may be some loss of quality.

Cold Water Thawing

attachment-Illinois Thawing Turkey (2)

First be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product.

Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Allow about 30 minutes per pound.

Cold Water Thawing Times (Allow about 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

A turkey thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately. After cooking, meat from the turkey can be refrozen.

Microwave Thawing

attachment-Illinois Thawing Turkey (3)

Follow the microwave oven manufacturer's instructions when defrosting a turkey. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed.

LOOK: Highest-rated cheap eats in Rockford, according to Tripadvisor

Stacker compiled a list of the highest rated cheap eats restaurants in Rockford from Tripadvisor.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

Look: Counties with the highest cancer rates in Illinois

Stacker ranked the counties with the highest cancer rates in Illinois using data from the CDC.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

More From I-Rock 93.5