How long does it take for a turkey to thaw?  

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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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According to the USDA, when thawing your turkey in the refrigerator, you'll need to allow 24 hours for every four to five pounds. Don't bother with the math–here's a table:

When you thaw your turkey by submerging it in cold water (changing the water every 30 minutes), allow about 30 minutes per pound. For the math averse:

See Turkey 101 and Top Turkey Questions Answered for more turkey tips for the holidays, and if you need a recipe, see our collection of turkey recipes.

Marge Perry
Nov, 2010
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