The essential guide for thawing out your Thanksgiving turkey

8 On Your Side

COLUMBUS (WFLA/WCMH) — If you’re planning on preparing a big turkey for your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, today is the day to put that frozen bird in the fridge.

According to, it takes up to 6 days for a 20 to 24-pound turkey to thaw out in your refrigerator. That means you’ll need to place your big bird in your fridge tonight to have it read to cook next Thursday.

Birds between 16-20 pounds need to be in your fridge by Saturday the 18th. 12-16 pounders need to start thawing on Sunday the 19. Small turkeys between 4-12 pounds should be placed in your fridge on the 20th.

So what happens if you miss the deadline? There are still other options. says you can still safely thaw out a turkey by placing it in cold water. You need to leave it in the cold water about 30 minutes per pound. That means a small 4-pound turkey would be ready to go in about 2 hours, but it will still take up to 12 hours for a large bird to thaw out this way.>> MORE FROM LILA’S DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

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