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Food Safety Issues/How soon can I buy my Thanksgiving day turkey



I live in an apartment so our refrigerator is not huge it's an apartment size fridge. So my question to you is what is the earliest that I can I buy my turkey so that it will be thawed out Thanksgiving eve?  Would I be safe buying it on Saturday (11/21) to be ready buy 11/26?  Bird will weigh in at between 18-25lbs.  Thanks for your help!

Hi Dave,

The general rule of thumb is that a turkey will defrost 3-5 lbs every day.  So I would take the average of 4 lbs and divide that by the weight of the turkey.  A 20lb bird should be defrosted in 5 days.

I would place a 20lb bird in the refrigerator Friday morning - November 20th and your bird should be defrosted by Wednesday, November 25th. Of course, if you place it in earlier that would be okay as a defrosted turkey can safely be in the refrigerator 2 days after full defrost and before roasting.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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