A Turkey Primer for First Timers and Old Hats
If you've been appointed the official cook for the Thanksgiving turkey and have never done it before or just dread the thought of doing it again, don't fret. Cooking a turkey is the easiest part of the entire feast. Use these guidelines and tips to make it less stressful and help your turkey be the stuffing of Thanksgiving legend:
- How much do you need? Plan on 1/2 to 3/4 pounds per person for a regular bone-in turkey and about 1/3 pound per person for a boneless breast or turkey roast. Add in a bit more if you want some leftovers.
- How long does it take to thaw? The short answer is: It depends. There are three methods to thaw your bird – refrigerator, cold water and microwave – and are explained in detail on our thawing options page.
- How long to roast? Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Remove giblet packets, then rinse inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously rub the body and neck cavities with salt and sprinkle the skin with salt and brush melted butter oil all over.
Place the turkey, breast-side up in a shallow roasting pan and roast on the lowest rack until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 175 to 180 degrees and the breast registers 165.
For a more detailed explanation, refer to the Stuffed Oven Roasted Turkey recipe.
- To stuff or not to stuff? If your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the stuffing, then use the same Stuffed Oven Roasted Turkey recipe to safely prepare it or go with baking it in a pan if you're a first-timer along with the Unstuffed Oven Roasted Turkey recipe.
- Wait, what if I want to deep fry? This is definitely for the more adventurous. It requires the right tools, preparation and a designated fry buddy. But if you feel you're up to the challenge, use this Deep Fried Turkey recipe to navigate your way to deep fried turkey flavor town.
Good luck. May all your turkeys be delicious and golden brown. Below are more turkey-cooking options along with a list of sides, desserts and gravies to complete your holiday meal:
Sides, Desserts and Gravy