The best way to thaw a turkey is in a refrigerator, according to USDA recommendations. Allow 24 hours for each four to five pounds, in a refrigerator cooled to 40 degrees or below. Be sure to let the turkey thaw in a container so juices will not drip onto other foods.
If you must thaw a turkey in cold water, be sure it is in a leak-proof bag. The turkey should be submerged in cold water. Allow 30 minutes per pound. Change the water frequently. USDA recommends every 30 minutes. Cook immediately when thawed.
Cook turkey to 165 degrees in thickest part of the breast, inner thigh, and inner wing.
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching any food.
Do not store stuffing inside a turkey. Refrigerate it separately.
Don’t wash the turkey. According to the USDA, loosely attached bacteria can contaminate the kitchen when you wash meat or poultry. Studies have found bacteria cling to sinks, sponges and towels. Bacteria is effectively killed in the oven. The best idea is to take the turkey out of the package and put it straight into the pan.