For many people, Christmas dinner is the most important part of the festive season, and a big fat turkey is often an essential element of the meal.
Far chunkier than chickens, a turkey can be difficult to cook correctly.
Factor in the fact that they often come frozen, and you have a tough battle on your hands — tightroping between a frozen solid bird and overcooked, dry meat.
This means that correct timing is absolutely imperative when cooking the perfect turkey.
However the festive bird is not the most common home-cooked meal, so people may be forgiven for getting the timings wrong.
For those who have left defrosting the turkey to last minute, here's everything you need to know…
When should I take my turkey out of the freezer?
The average turkey fit to feed six people should weigh 2-3kg. A turkey of this weight should take 1.65 days to thaw out in the fridge.
Here's a list of turkey weights and fridge thawing times:
- Turkey size for 3-4 people: A 1.5-1.75kg / 3-4lb bird – 1 day
- Turkey size for 5-6 people: A 2-3kg / 5-6lb bird – 1.65 days
- Turkey size for 7-9 people: A 3-3.5kg / 7-8lb bird – 2 days
- Turkey size for 10-12 people: A 4-4.5kg / 9-10lb bird – 2.5 days
- Turkey size for 13-15 people: A 4.5-5kg / 10-11lb bird – 2.75 days
- Turkey size for 16-18 people: A 5.5-6.5kg / 12-14lb bird – 3.5 days
- Turkey size for 20-24 people: A 6.75-7.75kg / 15-17lb – 4.2 days
For specific weights and times, use this handy calculator.
What to do if you've left your turkey too late
Leaving it too late to defrost the turkey is a common Christmas mistake – so fear not! There are a few solutions to this problem.
If you've got a day spare, you can use cold water to defrost your turkey quicker.
To do this, keep the turkey in its original packaging and submerge in cold water.
With this technique you have to change the water every 30 minutes — this prevents food poisoning!
Here's a list of turkey weights and cold water thawing times:
- Turkey size for 3-4 people: A 1.5-1.75kg / 3-4lb bird – 1 hr 55 mins
- Turkey size for 5-6 people: A 2-3kg / 5-6lb bird – 3 hr 18 mins
- Turkey size for 7-9 people: A 3-3.5kg / 7-8lb bird – 3 hr 55 mins
- Turkey size for 10-12 people: A 4-4.5kg / 9-10lb bird – 4 hr 57 mins
- Turkey size for 13-15 people: A 4.5-5kg / 10-11lb bird – 5 hr 30 mins
- Turkey size for 16-18 people: A 5.5-6.5kg / 12-14lb bird – 7 hr 9 mins
- Turkey size for 20-24 people: A 6.75-7.75kg / 15-17lb – 8 hr 30 mins
If you need to defrost your turkey even quicker than the above methods, you can use a microwave — just make sure to have it on the correct defrost settings.
Times will vary depending on microwave power and bird size.
There's a strong chance your turkey won't fit in your microwave.
If this is the case, you can cook a frozen turkey in an oven at 160 degrees Celsius.
- 8- to 12-pound turkey: 4. hr 30 mins
- 12- to 14-pound turkey: 5 hr 50 mins
- 14- to 18-pound turkey: 6 hr 25 mins
- 18- to 20-pound turkey: 6 hr 45 mins
- 20- to 24-pound turkey: 7 hr 30 mins
You won't be able to indulge in any fancy rubs or brines, but it should do the job fine.
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