Thank You for Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey Correctly
There are so many things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving that you don’t want to ruin all the giving of thanks by poisoning your guests with an undercooked turkey or stuffing. Not only will it make your guests a lot less thankful, it’s also going to knock you out for Black Friday, and the only thing worse than food poisoning on Thanksgiving is losing out on enormous savings.
Allow plenty of time for your frozen turkey to thaw
Unless you’re picking your turkey up fresh from the farm the day before Thanksgiving, you most likely have a frozen turkey in your freezer. Remember to take it out in time, so that it defrosts all the way before you dress it, stuff it and cook it. Here are two ways to defrost a turkey:
- Defrosting in refrigerator – allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds of frozen turkey
- Example: A 15lb turkey would take 3 days to defrost
- Defrosting in cold water – place the turkey in a bag and place it in a bowl of water
- Example: A 15lb turkey would take approx. 7-8 hours.
DO NOT leave your turkey to defrost at room temperature. It will take waaaay too long before the inside has thawed, leaving plenty of time for bacterias to grow on the parts that have already thawed.
Once the turkey has thawed it is time for you to prep it for cooking. This is when you whip out your secret family spice mixes and stuffing recipes. This is usually also the time you realize you forgot something and have to make a quick trip to the store. Remember, you won’t be the only one, so just take a deep breath and enjoy the chaos and frantic shoppers. Stressing won’t make the line go any faster.
Cooking times for stuffed and unstuffed turkey
Once you have all your spices, herbs, veggies, etc. it’s time to cook that turkey. How long you cook it for will depend on if you’re the type that stuffs the stuffing into the turkey or if you’re the type that stuffs the stuffing in a pan and cook the turkey separately.
A general rule of thumb for cooking a turkey is to allow for about 15-20 minutes per pound in a 325 degree F. oven. But, a safer way to determine if your turkey really has cooked all the way is to check with a meat thermometer. After about three hours, start taking your turkeys temperature to determine how it’s coming along. For the correct temperatures, we turned to the good people at Butterball. If they don’t know how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey, no one does.
Measure your turkeys temperature in three places
- Thigh: 180 degrees F.
- Breast: 165 degrees F.
- Stuffing: 165 degrees F.
Once you’ve hit all temperatures it’s time to let your turkey rest for about 15 minutes, gather your guests, sit down at the table and start (over) loading those plates.