NEVER leave your turkey (or any meat, for that matter) out on the counter to thaw! Not only will you be giving thanks next Thursday, but you’ll also be giving your closest friends and family members a nasty food borne illness. As the bird continues to thaw on the inside, the outside of the turkey will be at room temperature – prime temperature for bacteria to thrive.
The easiest way to thaw a turkey, or any other type of meat, is in the refrigerator. For every five pounds of turkey, allow 1 day of thawing in the refrigerator. Another option is the cold water bath. Using this method, keep the turkey wrapped and completely submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and for every pound of turkey, allow 30 minutes in the cold bath. Therefore, using the cold water bath method will take about 4 hours to thaw an 8 lb turkey.
If you want to avoid thawing a turkey all together, purchase a fresh turkey, but no more than 3 days before you plan to cook it. Make sure it is stored at 40°F or below.