Hotline helps with all things turkey

News Tribune wire servicesNovember 21, 2012 

Need help on Thanksgiving? Here are quick answers and resources to get you answers.

Butterball Turkey Talk Line: 800-288-8372; for live chats and more, go to

The National Turkey Federation: Offers tips on buying, thawing, prepping and cooking the bird;

Partnership for Food Safety Education: This nonprofit’s website has info for the whole family. Go to and click on “Holiday Food Safety” at the bottom of the home page.

USDA: For fact sheets and videos, go to:, click on “Fact Sheets, “ then “Seasonal Food Safety.”

Turkey thawing times

Did you forgot to take your turkey out of the fridge on time? A turkey takes 24 hours of defrost time per 4 or 5 pounds of turkey. If you goofed, you can speed things up by submerging it in cold water that you change every 30 minutes. Do not thaw the turkey on the counter at room temperature. A guide to cold water defrosting:


8 to 12 pounds: 4 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 Cooking times

Use these USDA recommended times instead of those found in older cookbooks and references. Cook at 325 degrees. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured with a food thermometer, according to the USDA. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. If cooking stuffing inside the bird, make sure the center of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees. Even if your turkey has a pop-up temperature indicator, the USDA recommends checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.

(Note: Times below are for unstuffed/stuffed birds)

8 to 12 pounds: 2-3/4 to 3 hours (unstuffed), 3 to 3-1/2 hours (stuffed)

12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3-3/4 hours, 3-1/2 to 4 hours

14 to 18 pounds: 3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours, 4 to 4-1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds: 4-1/4 to 4-1/2 hours, 4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours

20 to 24 pounds: 4-1/2 to 5 hours, 4-3/4 to 5-1/4 hours

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