Thanksgiving Turkey doesn’t have to be hard. Here are the tips, tricks, and techniques for making sure your bird is moist and flavorful.
A turkey can be intimidiating because it’s the main course for Thanksgiving. Trust me, I will help you through this.
Most importantly, make sure it’s thawed in time and that you don’t overcook it. Trust your meat thermometer!
RECOMMENDED TURKEY PER PERSON
Butterball turkey says you should plan on 2lbs per adult and 1 lb per child. Here’s a portion calculator here.
HOW LONG TO THAW A TURKEY
For every 5lb of turkey you should allow one day of thawing in the fridge. So a 15lb turkey will take 3 days. To be sure, allow an extra day of thawing. Thaw in the refrigerator on a pan with sides so any liquid is caught.
HOW TO PREP A TURKEY FOR COOKING
- To prep your turkey for cooking you first need to make sure it’s fully thawed. Sit the turkey at room temperature for an hour before cooking to allow the bird to cook evenly.
- Next, remove the giblets and neck from the frontal and rear cavities.
- Pat the turkey dry.
- Sprinkle the outside and inside of the turkey with salt and pepper.
DO I NEED A ROASTING PAN?
Ideally yes. You can buy a disposable pan which is very inexpensive. Instead of a rack, stack your tukey on top of veggies like onions, carrots, and celery which will make for some great drippings (you won’t eat the veggies).
DON’T STUFF YOUR TURKEY
Back in the day we used to stuff turkeys with bread based stuffing that we would eat but now we cook the stuffing separately, which is called “dressing”. It is okay to stuff it with lemons, onions, and herbs to add flavor.
HOW LONG TO COOK A TURKEY
You should cook a turkey for 13 minutes per pound at 350 degrees F for an unstuffed turkey and 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey. Of course, it’s smart to check the temperature of the thigh about 3/4 of the way through the estimated time to make sure you do not overcook it.
CAN YOU PARTIALLY COOK A TURKEY
You should never partially cook a turkey but you can cook a turkey all the way and reheat the meat later.
TEMPERATURE TURKEY IS DONE
Your turkey is safe to eat when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is 165 degrees F. The breast will be at a higher temperature. Remember that the turkey will continue cooking as it rests. Using a meat thermometer, is the most accurate way to test the temperature. You can buy one at your grocery store or on Amazon.
LET THE TURKEY REST
I think we all envision a scene where you pull the turkey out of the oven right as you sit down to dinner. You actually want the turkey to rest for ONE HOUR before slicing it to let the juices redistribute throughout. Keep it loosely covered with foil.
OTHER THANKSGIVING RECIPES:
- Classic Stuffing Recipe
- Green Bean Casserole
- Twice Baked Potatoes
- Heavenly Green Beans
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Corn Souffle
- Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potatoes
- Lion House Rolls
- Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
- Cranberry Sauce
- ALL MY PIE RECIPES
- 1 (12-20) lb turkey, (if smaller you can use halve the herb butter recipe)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs (1 tablespoon each of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
FOR INSIDE THE TURKEY:
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 cloves garlic, halved
- leftover herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, t6hyme)
- Thaw your turkey. For every 5lb of turkey you should allow one day of thawing in the fridge. Thaw in the refrigerator on a pan with sides so any liquid is caught. Next, remove the giblets and neck from the frontal and rear cavities. Drain all liquid and pat the turkey dry. Sprinkle the outside and inside of the turkey with salt and pepper.
- Place the rack of the roasting pan in the pan. If using a disposable pan, stack some veggies on the bottom such as celery or onion and place the turkey on top.
- Make the herb butter. In a bowl, add the butter, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme), garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined.
- Carefully separate the skin from the breast and rub 1/4 of the herb butter under the skin as far as you canin the pocket. Rub the remaining butter all over the skin, breast, legs, and wings. Tuck wings under so they don't burn.
- Stuff turkey with the onion, lemon, garlic, and leftover herbs.
- If time allows, allow your turkey to sit for an hour at room temperature before cooking to ensure even cooking. Preheat the oven to 425° F. and adjust the rack or take out racks so that your turkey can sit in the center of the oven.
- Cook for 30 minutes at 425° F to get the skin crispy. You may add more time if you want it browner. Reduce heat to 350° F. Cover with a foil tent. A foil tent is loosely placed on top of the turkey so that it doesn't get too brown. Bake for 13 minutes per pound at 350 degrees F or until the thickest part of the thigh reads 165° F with a thermometer. This is the most important part. Do not overbake. Check the temperature of the thigh before you think you should to make sure.
- Remove the oven and allow turkey to sit, covered loosely with foil for one hour so that the juices can redistribute before slicing.