Thanksgiving emergency? Here’s how to solve common turkey problems.

It’s the stuff of Thanksgiving nightmares: waking up to put the turkey in the oven, only to realize the bird isn’t completely thawed, or at all.

Along with that nightmare can come the realization that it doesn’t take the full three hours to roast a turkey the traditional way.

Now what to do?

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Dreams of leftover turkey sandwiches and turkey soup completely dashed?

A variety of food experts shared tips on how to defrost (and cook) a turkey safely and efficiently in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Thawing a turkey on the kitchen counter could lead to the growth of dangerous bacteria and the risk of food poisoning.  Read on for key tips for defrosting a turkey safely and effectively.

Thawing a turkey on the kitchen counter could lead to the growth of dangerous bacteria and the risk of food poisoning. Read on for key tips for defrosting a turkey safely and effectively.
(iStock)

This is what they shared.

Cold water is key to fast and safe thawing

While the preferred way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator, says the Butterball website, there just won’t be enough time to do this on Thanksgiving and still have a turkey on the dinner table.

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The next best method, oddly enough, is to use cold water.

Cold water will thaw turkey “about 30 minutes per pound.”

“To defrost a turkey quickly and safely, fill your kitchen sink with cold water and place the turkey breast-side down in the water and submerge,” said Matt Johnson, co-author of the Cook Like A Master food blog.

Cold water, Johnson said, will thaw the turkey “in about 30 minutes per pound.”

“Renew the water every hour to keep the temperature constant and the defrosting process progresses,” he added.

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Another way to quickly defrost a turkey is to use a sous vide machine, said Dr. Bryan Quoc Le, a Puyallup, Washington-based food scientist and food industry consultant.

“The fastest way to safely thaw a turkey is to place the turkey, still in its packaging or sealed in a plastic bag with most of the air removed, in a cold water bath with a sous vide machine,” he said. (Also known as water ovens, sous vide machines are similar to slow cookers; they heat the water in the vat.)

There are smart and safe ways to defrost a Thanksgiving turkey before the big day, according to food experts.

There are smart and safe ways to defrost a Thanksgiving turkey before the big day, according to food experts.
(iStock)

With the water high enough to completely cover the turkey, the sous vide machine “should be set to the lowest possible temperature, or 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and set to circulate.”

Doing this, he said, “will ensure that heat transfer between the turkey and the outside of the container is maximized without raising the temperature beyond safe levels where bacteria can thrive.”

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One thing No however, what needs to be done is to use heat to speed up the defrosting of the turkey.

“Thawing turkey on the kitchen counter, at room temperature, or in a sink with hot water: [these are] unsafe thawing practices that should be avoided at all costs,” Eleonora Lahud, Florida-based corporate chef at C&H Sugar, told Fox News Digital.

Lahud also endorses using cold water to defrost a turkey and suggests changing the water every 30 minutes to speed up thawing.

“Don’t forget to scrub down any surfaces or utensils used to defrost the turkey.”

It’s important to remember good hygiene practices during this time, he said.

“Don’t forget to scrub down any surfaces or utensils used to defrost the turkey,” she said. “Washing them with soap and water will help you avoid contaminating other food, yourself, and your future guests.”

The bird is thawed, now what?

With defrosted turkey, there are a few ways to get a tasty dinner on the table in a relatively short time. Turkey is safe to eat when it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, says the Butterball website.

A technique called “spatchcocking” will cook a turkey much faster than the traditional roasting method, food blogger Johnson told Fox News Digital.

Cooking a turkey is one of the fastest ways to cook it, a professional chef told Fox News Digital.  In the photo: a sautéed chicken.

Cooking a turkey is one of the fastest ways to cook it, a professional chef told Fox News Digital. In the photo: a sautéed chicken.
(iStock)

“The fastest way to cook a turkey is to sauté it,” he said.

This is done by removing the backbone of the turkey and pressing down on the ribcage to make the bird move like a butterfly and place it on the roasting pan.

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The advantages of a dotted bird?

“The whole bird cooks evenly at the same time” since every part of it is exposed to the oven, he said.

“The end product will be a juicy, succulent turkey that will cook in about an hour,” Johnson said.

Opening a turkey results in "a juicy, succulent turkey that cooks in about an hour."

Cooking a turkey results in “a juicy, succulent turkey that cooks in about an hour.”
(iStock)

Another way to speed up cooking time is to completely deconstruct the turkey, Brian Nagele, CEO of Restaurant Clicks, told Fox News Digital.

It is located in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

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“A whole turkey can take hours to cook due to its thickness. However, cutting the turkey into separate pieces (thighs, drumsticks, wings) makes it easier for the heat from the oven to penetrate the meat and cook it evenly,” she said.

Nagele also advised people to resist the temptation to open the oven door during the cooking process.

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Doing so allows heat to escape and reduces the time it takes to finish the bird.

Opening the oven door is “one of the most common mistakes I see cooks make,” he said.

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