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How to thaw and prep a whole turkey

On the night before you plan to roast your turkey, place your thawed and cleaned turkey into the bag or kettle. If brining, pour the brining liquid over the turkey. Then, pour in cold water to cover the turkey completely in liquid (about 1 gallon for a whole bird). Seal the bag or kettle, and then refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove and rinse the turkey.

Use this calculator to determine how much turkey
 you’ll need.

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  • What is the plastic clamp on the turkey’s legs?

    The device is called a hock lock and is designed to secure the turkey legs together. The hock lock is made of a heat resistant nylon and is oven safe up to 500°F. The hock lock can easily be removed after roasting by sliding it off the turkey legs. Prior to roasting, it can be removed with kitchen shears.

    **If deep frying turkey, remove hock lock along with the pop-up timer and discard.

  • Why is the package film puffed up/domed?

    The inflated appearance of the top film (domed) is likely caused by the expansion of the air gases within the package. This is common when a product is tightly sealed for freshness. As long as the product has been properly stored and is within the use by date, it is safe to eat.

  • Can I cook a turkey with the hock lock?

    Yes, it is safe to roast a turkey with the hock lock on. If you are deep frying the turkey, you should remove it.

  • How do I remove the hock lock?

    Prior to roasting or deep-frying, the hock lock can be removed — slide it off the turkey legs with kitchen shears.

  • How should I thaw my frozen turkey?

    There are two methods to thaw a frozen turkey:

    Refrigerator Thawing

    Plan ahead: 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
    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 to 2 days before cooking or refreezing. Foods thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking, but there may be some loss of quality.

    Cold Water Thawing

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

    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.

    Cold Water Thawing Times
    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
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