Need Turkey Help Fast!

Due to unexpected changes in my MIL/FIL schedule for heading to Florida for the winter, our family Thanksgiving date has been changed to this Saturday. Hooray for family!!! sigh My problem - I now don’t have enough time for de-thawing my turkey in the fridge and for brining for 2 days before the old bird (the turkey, not my MIL) goes into the oven on Saturday morning.

I’ve read about the faster method to de-thaw a turkey by placing it in a large pot of cold water. Basically, 30 minutes for each 1lb of turkey. I could have the turnkey thawed today and into the brine tomorrow which keeps me on schedule. The problem with this approach is that all the information I read states you have to immediately cook the turkey once thawed by this method. After mine is thawed, I need to soak it in the citrus brine for 1-2 days.

Any suggestions or thoughts? Would it really be a risk to have the turkey in brine for 2 days after thawing is complete today? I mean, with the refrigerator method I usually take the thawed turkey out of the fridge and do the brine for 2 days anyway.


A slow stream of running cold water is the secret to speeding the process up. The water constantly provides more above freezing temperatures and the cold is whisked away, without overheating the meat. (And yes, I know cold isn’t a thing to be “siphoned” off, which is why I phrased it the first way.)

Your lengthy brining, in the fridge or other cold place may help melt yet more interior ice.

(Also reported for forum change)

Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, I took a shot that it qualified as a general question. Haha!

I’m thinking perhaps I only de-thaw with water for 1/2 the time needed today and then put the semi-frozen turkey back into the fridge until tomorrow when I put it into the brine. My only concern there is if it is still frozen at the core (it will be), will I be able to remove the neckbone/gibblets bag inside the turkey cavity. The turkey will spend its time in the brine either in the fridge or on our back deck if outside temperatures are favorable.


I’ve gotten the giblet bag out of a partially thawed turkey. I think you just want the legs thawed enough to reach in. The bag isn’t toxic, you could even leave it in, and buy giblets you need separately. Then get the bag out before you cook.

Two days, in the fridge, in a brine, may likely thaw most of the bird. Maybe some ice remains in the core. AT least you’re sure it was kept colder by the ice core. I’ve done it all the time, but I’m not an expert on food safety, that’s just an anecdote.

Two days brining is pretty long. I’m guessing the salt content in your brine isn’t that high. So maybe you want the brining bird as cold as possible.

Another option. Keep the turkey in the freezer for another day and buy a fresh/never frozen turkey for the weekend.


Since this is about cooking, let’s move it to Cafe Society.

General Questions Moderator

I don’t have anything to add around the thawing, but I wanted to mention that the cool kids don’t brine anymore. Funny how food fads come and go; I’ve brined and not brined, and honestly don’t see enough of a difference in brining to make it worth the hassle. Now multiple places are actually coming out against the practice.

I don’t have any science (culinary or otherwise) behind it, but my brined turkey didn’t come out significantly different than my “Toss in a 79¢ oven bag and cook” turkey. My recommendation to the OP would just be to skip the brine step.

It is a citrus-based brine I’ve been using for about 4-5 years now. It does have salt but it isn’t near the level of a traditional brine. This uses concentrated OJ, water, salt and spices, and sliced citrus fruit. I later stuff the bird with wedges of citrus fruit and cook the bird breasts down to allow the juices to flow through the breast. The recipe calls for 1-2 days in the brine. I may drop that down to just 1 considering the thawing issue I now have. :slight_smile:

That’s heresy!!! :smiley:

Don’t brine it. Two days saved and your turkey will taste more like turkey and less like salt.

Thanks but my turkey doesn’t taste like salt.

Move over, bacon salt! The next fad will be turkey salt.

I know that there is a lot of tradition around a Thanksgiving Turkey, but when I cook one at Christmas, I buy a fresh, free-range bird and cook it in the oven overnight at a low temperature. I baste it in the morning and turn the oven up a bit for a couple of hours; then take it out, cover with foil and free up the oven for roast potatoes etc.

This was my thinking as well. You can cook the frozen one later (like in February) at your preferred pace and process, and enjoy all that turkey meat later. I think it may be risky to try to get this done on time and properly with the frozen one - there is little margin for error and a lot riding on the meal - getting a fresh bird mitigates the risk.

In my opinion, brining is generally a crutch for people who learned a bad way to prepare turkey. It doesn’t improve flavor; in fact, it usually makes it blander, in my experience. There are better ways to avoid making turkey-jerky.

I think there’s something to that, and it’s a something that can generally be fixed with the purchase of a cooking thermometer. If you don’t overcook the damn thing, it’s generally pretty tasty and not at all dry.

Myself, after years of brining, buying expensive free-range birds and cooking them in a variety of time-consuming ways, am getting a Butterball this year and throwing it in the oven until the breast reaches 145 degrees and the thighs are 165. Easy-peasy and it’ll be just fine.

If you want to brine it, why don’t you just thaw it in the brine?

One of the things I like about turkey is the “dry” breast meat. People generally seem to hate it, but to me dry white turkey meat goes great with moist stuffing and cranberry sauce.