Thanksgiving Turkey Preparation Tips

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we’re sure that many of you are already stocking up on all the ingredients needed to prepare a delicious meal to serve to friends and family. With the turkey as the main star of the show, smart and safe handling is key when preparing it. Read further and we’ll show you the best practices on how to cook your bird safely.

Thawing your bird is the first step in your preparation for Thanksgiving. This process should not be rushed, and it is recommended to thaw your turkey one day for every four pounds. Turkey should never be placed on the counter to thaw, instead, place your turkey in a rimmed container or a deep pan in the refrigerator. The best place to keep your turkey thawing is the bottom shelf to keep it away from other foods that could be contaminated. You can also thaw your turkey in other safe ways such as in the microwave using the defrost setting, or you can submerge it in an airtight package in cold water. It is recommended to change the water every thirty minutes, and the thawing time is 30 minutes per pound.

After thawing your turkey, you’re ready to place it in the oven. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, remove the packaging from your turkey, and place it in the roaster, drain any juices that have collected in the pan while thawing, and pat dry with paper towels. Before adding your seasonings and spices, wash your hands thoroughly in warm water for 20 seconds, and continue to wash your hands while you move between tasks that don’t involve raw turkey. Also, be sure to use separate cutting boards and knives to reduce cross contamination between foods. Once your turkey has been successfully thawed and season, you’re ready to place it in the oven.

Use a food thermometer and cook your turkey until it reaches and an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When cooking a stuffed turkey, the stuffing needs to be the same temperature as well. Normal cooking time for a turkey is between 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of your turkey. Cook the turkey until it turns a light golden color, and cover loosely with a folded tent. During the last 45 minutes of cooking, remove it to brown the skin. Although basting the turkey is not necessary, it’s great to do to promote browning and to keep the turkey juicy. Once the turkey is done, refrigerate any leftovers within two hours.

With these safe preparation tips, you can ensure that your Thanksgiving meal will be delicious and healthy for the entire family.