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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it is time to start making some very important decisions about this big dinner. The turkey is the anchor of the feast but there are a few things that need to be considered before this choice is made.

For starters, the fresh vs. frozen debate is one that is always going to rage but it is not as important as the following considerations.

Photo: flickr/tuchodi

What about those who are strapped for time, though? The turkey can be submerged in cold water inside of the original packaging. The water will need to be refreshed every 20 minutes and the bird is ready for roasting once it reaches a temperature of 40 to 45 degrees throughout.

The best turkeys will not show signs of frost and the bird should only be kept for a couple of months before it is cooked.


If the turkey is going to be defrosted in the fridge, there is one rule of thumb that needs to be followed. The turkey will need 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight that it carries. This means that a 20-pound turkey would need at least four days to fully thaw.

Those who choose fresh turkeys are usually willing to spend a bit more money. They are richer and have a firmer texture than the frozen birds that others will choose. Meanwhile, those who are looking to divvy up the turkey between all of their guests should adhere to the “one pound per guest” rule. Anyone who wants to have leftovers available should bear this in mind.


Last but not least, there are some labeling concerns that need to be addressed. Wild turkeys are gamier and the texture is dry and lean. Organic turkeys are free of chemicals and hormones. Natural turkeys differ slightly from organic turkeys because they have been given antibiotics. Self-basting turkeys have been pumped full of solutions and free-range birds enjoy a far less limited range of movement than their counterparts.

Thanks to the good folks at Williams-Sonoma for sharing these tips!

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