How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

Buy about 1.5 pounds of turkey per person. (So if you’re feeding 8 people, buy at least a 13 lb. turkey). That way you’ll have leftovers.

What size turkey to buy?

Remove the turkey from it’s packaging, dry it off with some paper towels, and then prepare it for the oven. Any bacteria on the turkey will be killed in the hot oven while it bakes.

Don’t wash the turkey

Make sure to give your turkey plenty of time to thaw! For every 5 pounds of turkey, it's a good idea to allow one day in the refrigerator.

How to thaw your turkey

If you buy a high-quality turkey from the store (like Butterball or Norbest), then brining the turkey is an unnecessary step.

Don’t brine the turkey

If you try to put stuffing/dressing inside the cavity of the bird, the turkey will be overcooked by the time the stuffing reaches a temperature that’s safe to eat. Instead, cook your stuffing in a casserole dish.

Don’t cook stuffing inside the turkey

Really, basting is not necessary to achieve a gorgeous golden-brown bird. The skin of the turkey will brown beautifully and taste delicious if you spread a herb butter mixture over both the exterior and inside skin.

Don’t baste the turkey

The only way to really tell if the turkey is cooked (165 degrees F), is by using a thermometer. Test the turkey right from the oven—if it reaches 160 degrees F, you take it out and tent it with foil.

Do test the turkey with a thermometer

Let the turkey rest after removing it from the oven for at least 15 minutes, or up to 40 minutes (that gives you some extra time if you need to bake or warm anything else in the oven).

Do let the turkey rest

After the turkey is finished cooking there will be juice and browned cooked bits at the bottom of your roasting pan. You can reserve all of it for making turkey gravy.

Do save the turkey drippings

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