The best way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator (in its original packaging on a shallow baking sheet). You should allow approximately 24 hours for every 5 lbs. of bird weight, according to the National Turkey Federation. The refrigerated method is safest and will result in the best finished product.
Not enough time? The organization provides the following advice for accelerated thawing. Thaw the bird in cold water (in its original wrapping). The cold water must be changed every 30 minutes. Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound.