One Week to Thanksgiving: Start Thawing!

As the official Thanksgiving first responders, on alert to aid cooks, we get thousands of last-minute panic-stricken calls to the Talk-Line. A lot of Thanksgiving cooks are juggling a full plate of activities—jobs, family tasks and kid transport. Before they know it, the countdown to Thanksgiving is upon them. Here are the top tips to keep in mind to avoid holiday meal mayhem.


1. Turkey Still Frozen?

As a turkey expert on the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, one of the most frequent questions we get is about thawing, as many people don’t realize you need to start doing this one week out (start today!) I respond calmly to cooks hovering on the edge of panic that haven’t thawed their turkey and tell them to place the turkey breast side down (with the packaging facing up) in its original packaging in a sink or cooler of cold water.  Allow about 30 minutes per lb. for the turkey to thaw—a 12 lb. turkey will thaw in about 6 hours in cold water.

2. Keep it Simple with Sides

Supermarkets have plenty of options for every budget to aid holiday cooks. From ready-to-eat at the take-out counter, to semi-homemade or made-from-scratch, the options are endless. Mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash and more are just a few of the sides that are readily available and easy to cook. Make sure your menu is planned out now – so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.

3. Dessert

Cakes and pies are fabulous choices for any menu – guests love them!  If you’re looking for a stress-free option, they can be purchased pre-sliced and you can simply add a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream to spice it up. Or, you can try our Pumpkin Pie Sundaes, which can be made with a store-bought pumpkin pie! If you’re making your own dessert, bake it in advance; this helps take some of the pressure off and will free up space in the kitchen the day of the dinner.

4. Leftovers

Once the meal is finished, the food should be put away and properly stored within two hours. If you’ve stuffed the turkey, remove any leftover dressing from the turkey. Slice the meat off the turkey and seal the slices in airtight containers. If you have more leftovers than you’ll eat within a couple of days, put the remainder in the freezer. Frozen turkey and dressing should be used within a month. If you’re looking for a leftover recipe, try this Turkey Crescent Bake – it’s an easy casserole everyone will love!

Don’t let the turkey tie you up. With a little pre-planning and these tips you’ll enjoy a stress-free meal with time to spare. For additional tips, check out the How-To videos on!



  1. Linda Gressel
    Posted November 21, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I am thinking of dismantling my turkey before baking. What would be your advice

    • Posted November 25, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink | Reply

      We recommend removing the backbone of the turkey and laying it into a shallow pan, cut side down. The turkey will cook in about an hour less time than normal. Use a meat thermometer and ensure the breast reaches 165-170 degrees and the thigh reaches 175-180 degrees.

  2. Posted November 23, 2013 at 7:05 am | Permalink | Reply

    I want to put sausage stuffing in the turkey. I have a 20 pounder which will probably cook for 5 hours….. does the sausage have to be pre-cooked?

    • Posted November 25, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jan – we do recommend that you pre-cook the sausage before you stuff your turkey.

  3. Lisa Haney
    Posted November 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I just bought a 12 lb fresh Turkey today that I am frying on Friday. Should I freeze it for one day or will it be ok in the refridgerator until Friday?? thanks

    • Posted November 25, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Lisa – we recommend you keep your turkey in the coldest part of your fridge and it will be fine for Friday. There is also a “sell by date” on your turkey and it will keep until about 2-3 days after that date.

  4. Michelle
    Posted November 26, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I just purchased a 12 lb. frozen butterball turkey. I plan on a cold water thaw, which should take 7 hours. Can I thaw it on Wednesday for 7 hours and then put it back in the fridge to keep until Thursday morning? Thanks

    • Posted November 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Michelle – Keep the turkey in the wrapper and after removing the turkey from the water, place it on a tray and put it in the refrigerator and it will be thawed for Thanksgiving Day.

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