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Turkey 101

Created December 8, 2016
roast turkey on plate with vegetables
All the need-to-know info for tackling the Thanksgiving bird, from buying and prepping to roasting and carving MORE+ LESS-

Buying It

  • It sounds like a lot, but buy a turkey that allows for 1 pound per person.
  • Fresh vs. frozen: Doesn't really matter, as long as you have space in your 'fridge to thaw a frozen bird. (If you don't, order a fresh one from your supermarket.)
  • Look over the frozen turkeys in the store and choose one that isn't all frosty and has no rips in the packaging.

Thawing It

  • Thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator in its original packaging.
  • Allow 24 hours of thawing time for each 4 pounds of turkey… so a 12-pound bird thaws for 3 full days.
  • If you don't have time for a refrigerator thaw, you can thaw it in cold water, about 30 minutes per pound of turkey. Make sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Cover the turkey with cold tap water, so the turkey is completely under water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey as soon as it's thawed.
  • Never thaw a turkey at room temperature. Never ever!

Prepping It

  • Fasten the neck skin to the back of the turkey with skewer. 
  • Turn turkey breast side up. Fold the wings across the back of the turkey so tips are touching.
  • Fill the body cavity lightly with stuffing.
  • Tie the legs together with heavy string.
  • Stick an ovenproof thermometer so the tip is in the thickest part of the inside thigh and doesn't touch any bone

Stuffing It

  • Make stuffing, and either add it to the cavity of the turkey, or even easier, bake it in a casserole.
  • If stuffing a turkey, don’t pack it in -- put it in loosely.
  • To bake outside the bird, spray a casserole and add the stuffing. Bake at 325 degrees for about 35 minutes or until good and hot.

Roasting It

  • Super easy. 325 degrees. Pop the uncovered roaster in the oven and allow about 15 minutes of roasting time for each pound of unstuffed turkey.
  • No basting necessary. 
  • It's done when your thermometer (overproof or instant-read) reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh... not touching any bones.

Get tons of easy turkey recipes!

Carving It

  • Let the turkey stand at least 15 minutes before you carve it.
  • Watch how to do it in our carving video below.