Five Turkey Tips for a Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

Do you know anyone who could benefit from some turkey guidelines?
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Five Turkey Tips for a Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

Seasonal & Holiday | DIY Lady

Do you know anyone who could benefit from some turkey guidelines?

A certain someone in our extended family, who shall remain nameless, has a reputation of messing up the Thanksgiving turkey. One year, the white meat practically turned to dust on our tongues. The next was so overly brined that saliva flooded our mouths out of sheer survival, and we went from the Sahara Desert to the Dead Sea. It isn’t a pretty vision, is it? Still, since we all appreciate this cook and the willingness to put on a meal, we aim to give the benefit of another chance. As such, I decided to gather some tips about cooking a Thanksgiving turkey and quietly post this article to my Facebook news feed. 


Keep Your Eyes on the Size

One of the most common questions about Thanksgiving Turkeys is how big a bird should I get? Hmm, well that does depend on the appetites involved, but the general rule is one pound per adult for dinner. Add an extra half pound per person if you are looking forward to left overs.


How Do I Thaw a Turkey?

You can have a tasty bird that is either fresh or frozen, but a frozen turkey will need time to properly thaw. The safest way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator. Allow three or four hours per pound. For example, a 20 pound turkey should be placed in the refrigerator at least two days before it is prepared. You can’t rush these things. Placing the turkey on the counter to thaw may result in food poisoning because of uneven thawing. 


How to Cook a Turkey

Cook a turkey too long and it gets too dry. Undercook it, and it won’t be safe to eat. The goal is to cook the turkey until the breast reaches a temperature of 155 to 160 degrees F. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes and then check it again. This resting period allows the juices to distribute and the breast to reach a temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F. 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. The cook time will be determined by the size of the bird. During the last estimated hour of cooking, check the temperature frequently to avoid overcooking. Here is a general guideline for cook time.

  • 8 to 12 pounds: 3 to 4 hours
  • 12 to 16 pounds: 4 to 5 hours
  • 16 to 20 pounds: 5 to 6 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 6 to 7 hours. 


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thanksgiving, turkey, holiday cooking