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Not Thawing the Turkey in Time

If you want to buy a fresh turkey, the safest bet is to wait until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, since the uncooked bird shouldn't be stored in the refrigerator for more than two days (some grocery stores will even let you reserve one ahead of time). If you bought yours farther in advance and froze it, that's fine, too—but the important thing is to remember which day to transfer it to your fridge (which should be set at 40 degrees or cooler) to thaw. The USDA says to allow one day per five pounds of weight to thaw the turkey, plus an extra day or two. So, a 20-pound turkey will take about four days to thaw. After it has thawed, it's safe in the fridge for another two days.