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How Long Does It Take to Defrost a Turkey? Plus Other Kitchen Tips to Help You This Thanksgiving

Inside Edition went behind the scenes to The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line Command Center in Naperville, Illinois, where dozens of dedicated turkey experts are ready to answer your burning questions and address any food-related emergencies this Thanksgiving

On average, more than 11,000 people call The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line every Thanksgiving. Their calls are answered by experts equipped with a binder full of tips and tricks, as well as an online catalog of answers to any imaginable turkey-related question.

Nicole Johnson, who has been working in the call center for 18 years, said the number one question they get is, "‘How do I thaw my turkey?’"

"So people don't realize it takes a good number of days to thaw your turkey," she said. "The equation for that is 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey meat."

She says if your turkey is still in the freezer on Thanksgiving Eve, don't panic; you can speed up the process by placing your frozen bird in a cold water bath. 

"It's a half hour per pound, so your 12-pound turkey is going to take six hours using that cold water bath method,” she said. 

As you can imagine, she has heard some wild turkey stories over the years.

"We've heard someone wrapping their turkey in an electric blanket; we've heard [of] frozen turkey out in a hot Jacuzzi,” she continued. 

Once your turkey is thawed, Johnson recommends roasting it in a shallow, open pan at 325 degrees. She also says to place the bird on a small rack to elevate it.

"We do recommend to prevent the skin from drying out, you can simply take some vegetable oil and you can just lightly brush,” she added.

Another big question the command center receives? How to know when the turkey is ready.

"Your best friend on Thanksgiving Day is that meat thermometer— truly the only way to check for doneness [and] the safest way to check for doneness,” Johnson said, noting a turkey needs to reach 180 degrees in the thigh and 170 degrees in the breast. 

The talk-line experts hear the same questions over and over again each year, but they continue answering every single one, and they do it with a smile.

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