Countdown to Turkey Day 2012: Create your Thanksgiving Timetable and The Great Turkey Thaw / Unfreeze / Safety Check

Heather says:

Every year I laugh at how many people land on here on Home Ec 101 for the term “how to unfreeze a turkey” yes, I know the proper term is how to thaw a turkey, but way back in the early years of this site, someone wrote in and well, there you have it. Unfreezing a turkey is apparently a thing.

At this stage of the game, if you have a frozen turkey and it is still sitting in your freezer, you need to do a waterbath thaw to “unfreeze” or thaw your turkey safely. (See what I did there?)

Grab a bucket or a cooler and check the plastic wrap of the turkey for any tears or obvious holes. If you see any get yourself one of those giant zippered bags or plastic bag you’d use to cook a turkey or large roast.  Make sure you seal the bag tightly. The goal isn’t to create a soggy turkey, it’s to thaw the turkey safely.

Now place the cooler or bucket in the tub and fill with cool water. You have the choice of either dripping water into the bucket or cooler and allowing it to overflow into the tub (keep the drain open) or change the water every 30 minutes. Either method is safe.

You’ll need to allow at least 30 minutes a pound for the waterbath thaw. Once your turkey has thawed, store it in the refrigerator for Thanksgiving. (You’ll want to cook the turkey within 72 hours of its being fully thawed. If you feel you’re cutting it close by thawing it today, wait until tomorrow, no big whoop.)

Today’s Turkey Day Countdown Task?

Create your Thanksgiving Timetable

Grab your menu, your recipes, and more pen and paper.

What time are you eating?

Plan to have your turkey done 30 minutes prior to the time dinner will be served.

Why? Turkeys need to rest before carving. Your turkey has had a heck of a day, manhandled, roasted or fried, give that sucker a chance to chill-out, covered on the carving board for 30 minutes before dinner.

Now look at the cook times for each of your menu items.

Now look at your oven, now back to the cook times, back to the oven, now back to me. Oops, got carried away.

Figure out which items will go into the oven at what time to be done about 5 minutes prior to the dinner serving time.

Write down the times they need to go into the oven and (remember when you assigned the dishes to the menu items? add the time and oven temp to the post-it notes.)

Do you have any items that can be made now (Cornbread for your dressing perhaps?) What can be cooked the night before and simply heated on Thanksgiving?

Don’t forget to take advantage of roaster ovens and slow cookers (especially if they have a holding or warming feature as you create your time table.

If you are going to have helping hands in your kitchen you should probably write this time table down in legible handwriting or better yet, type it out. Post this in a prominent location so people can refer to the sheet when your hands and mind are otherwise occupied.

While you’re at it, print out a copy of each recipe. Put everything in a folder or 3-ring binder and put this in a SAFE location. Not a location you think you’re going to remember on Thursday. Heck, comment here with where you’re putting your notes. I won’t mind, I’ll be here on Thursday and you can come back and check to see where you hid it.

How is the house looking?

Still company ready?

Great. Today’s laundry day, so go ahead and get those guest sheets (if you need them, that is) washed.

How is your prep for Turkey Day coming along?


  1. Michele N. on November 19, 2012 at 6:41 am

    You seriously feed (ha!) my Thanksgiving addiction with these posts. Last night, I may or may not have dreamed that I learned from your blog that I missed some huge part of preparation and had to run all over town looking for some mystery ingredient; woke up this morning and realized I had forgotten cranberries. Didn’t realize Home Ec 101 offered subconscious updates these days!

    • Heather Solos on November 19, 2012 at 6:52 am

      I only offer that to my very favorite subscribers. . . and I don’t publicize it, it’s exhausting. 😉

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