Cooking Thanksgiving Turkey

Written by Brooke Tolman (last updated November 20, 2013)

Your family and friends have gathered together at your house; everyone has been watching football and a great time is being had by all. When that special time rolls around in the afternoon you all gather around the big dining room table read to eat a delicious Thanksgiving feast, only to cut the turkey and find that the meat is bone dry! A thanksgiving nightmare! Cooking a delicious and moist thanksgiving turkey should be stress-free and easy; here are some tips on how to do just that.

Before I tell you how to cook such a delicious turkey, there are three prerequisites to successfully cooking a turkey using this method:

  1. 1. The temperature in your oven has to be accurate.
  2. 2. Your turkey has been safely and totally thawed and cleaned. The only safe way to thaw a frozen turkey is to place it in the refrigerator. Other methods such as running cold water over it or placing it in a microwave oven are not safe because of the chance of bacterial growth and contamination. If your turkey is between 8 and 16 pounds it will take about 3 days (give or take a day) to completely thaw. If it's between 16 and 24 pounds, I would start letting it thaw out about 5 days before Thanksgiving.
  3. Be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the inside of the turkey before cooking it. That may seem like a pretty obvious thing to do but it's one of the easiest things to forget.

Now that you've done these three prepping steps, you're ready to start cooking your turkey. After trying this once, you'll never look for another method of doing it. No more fighting over the dark pieces of meat because the white pieces are just as moist.

Start out by preheating the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Next you'll gently separate the skin from the breast, but don't peel it off; you just want it separated enough that you can get your hand in between the skin and the meat. After separating the skin and meat, melt some butter and rub it in that space between, but don't put any on the outside of the bird. If you'd like you can put some rosemary and thyme in between as well to add some flavor. Next, lightly pepper and salt the outside of the skin to help make it crisp when baking. When you're done, place the turkey in a covered roasting pan place in the oven preheated to 475 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Our goal here is to "seal the bird" to help keep it juicy. After that first 20 minutes is up, reduce the heat to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The goal here is to slow cook the turkey. From this point on, cook the turkey at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 additional minutes for each pound. No basting is necessary.

Make sure to use a meat thermometer to check to see if your meat is all the way cooked. Even worse than a dry turkey on Thanksgiving is a raw turkey on Thanksgiving. Your meat thermometer should read between 170 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit for the interior breast meat. When done, remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest uncovered for at least 20 minutes before carving it. This allows the juices to redistribute themselves inside the turkey making the turkey even more juicy, delicious, and easier to carve. And finally, serve to all your family and friends and let me enjoy your delicious Thanksgiving turkey!

Author Bio

Brooke Tolman

Brooke is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise Science. She currently resides in Seattle where she works as a freelance data analyst and personal trainer. She hopes to spend her life camping and traveling the world. ...


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