Monday, December 11, 2023

Tips for successfully cooking a Thanksgiving turkey

By Elizabeth Bobenhausen Poultry Times staff

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — There are many iconic dishes to be prepared for Thanksgiving. Some of these dishes include the stuffing, the potatoes, the cranberry sauce, the casseroles and much more. Every family has their own unique way of preparing these dishes. Most families pass down recipes from generation to generation. Some families even keep their recipes a secret.

However, a main staple of a Thanksgiving meal is the turkey. Turkeys can be smoked, baked, roasted, or fried. A traditional way of cooking a Thanksgiving turkey is to roast it.


According to the USDA, there are a few ways to thaw out a turkey. However, there are also unsafe ways to defrost a turkey such as:

· Thawing a turkey on the counter, in the garage or on the back porch.

· Thawing a turkey in a brown paper grocery bag or plastic garbage bag.

· Using the dishwasher to thaw a turkey (with or without water).

· Any method that is not the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave.

Not to worry if someone prefers to cook their turkey frozen, it will just take longer to cook. The USDA states that, “A solidly frozen turkey will take at least 50 percent longer to cook than a thawed turkey. If your turkey is only partially frozen, remember that it will take a bit longer to cook.” The inner thigh of the turkey must reach a temperature of 165 degrees F to be finished cooking.


Butterball provides several tips on how to roast a turkey that is thawed or frozen.

If the turkey has been defrosted or frozen, Butterball gives the following suggestions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels.

2. Place turkey breast-side-up on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2½ inches deep.

3. Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. (Tucking the wings will help stabilize the turkey in the pan and when carving) Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.

4. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh without touching the bone. If the turkey is stuffed, and the thigh is up to temperature, move the thermometer to the center of the stuffing.

5. Place your turkey in the oven.

6. When the turkey is about ⅔ done, loosely cover the breast with a piece of foil to prevent overcooking.

7. Your turkey is done when the temperature with a meat thermometer is 180° F in thigh and 170° F in breast or stuffing.

8. Lift turkey onto platter and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

It is important to remember that the cook time for a turkey adjusts by its weight.

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