Thanksgiving is coming soon! Are you beginning to prepare? Whether you are cooking for a crowd or just your family {like me}, every cook can use a refresher on how to properly prepare and cook a turkey, especially if you only prepare it once or twice during the year.

We have put together some Turkey Tips to help you be the hero of this years get-together. Ever wonder how big of a turkey you should buy? Or how to properly thaw the turkey? Well – never fear, we have those answers and more for you!

Turkey Tips | thawing, preparing, cooking, serving, recipes and leftovers | from

How big of a turkey do I need?

  • Allow 1 pound for every person unless you want leftovers, then allow 1 1/2 pound per person.

How long will the Turkey take to thaw?

  • Thawing your turkey takes time, for the best result place a frozen turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of bird (i.e. 3 days for a 12 pound turkey). If you have forgotten to remove your turkey from the freezer in time you can speed up the process by placing it in a cold water bath made from a cooler filled with ice water, just make sure the cooler is large enough to be able to close the lid and change the water every 30 to 45 minutes. Allow 30 minutes of thawing time for every pound of turkey. Of course you can take the guess work out of this by buying a fresh turkey up to 3 days prior to the dinner.

When should I start preparing the Turkey?

  • The night before the big day, take your turkey out of it’s packaging and place back in the refrigerator, this will help the skin dry out and make for a nice crispy turkey.

What about the neck and insides of the Turkey?

  • After thawing remove the neck and bag of parts from the inside of the turkey. Save these for your dressing and to make stock.

How should I cook the Turkey?

  • Preparing the turkey for roasting…there are several way to prepare your turkey, we prefer to coat the skin with a good olive or vegetable oil and apply a combination of spices and herbs. You really can’t go wrong with this, just use what you like.

How do I prepare the Turkey for cooking?

  • Tie your bird up. This may sound weird but if you do this it will help by promoting an even cooking of the turkey, just make sure to secure the legs together and fold the wing tips under the body before you tie it together using some string.

How long should the Turkey cook for?

  • Roasting times vary, you need to consider if your bird is fresh or frozen, is it a self basting turkey (water and salt added), do you stuff your bird and also the size of your turkey.
  • With all that being said a good rule of thumb is… 15 minutes for each pound for an unstuffed bird. If you stuff your bird allow another 30 to 45 minute to the cooking time. When all else fails follow the guidelines that come on the packaging of your turkey.

How do I tell if the Turkey is done?

  • Use an instant read thermometer. The accepted guidelines are 165 degree F at the thickest part of the breast (white meat) and 180 degree F between the thigh and body.

Should I serve the Turkey straight from the oven?

  • Allow your turkey to rest once it’s out of the oven, like all meats you need to let the natural juices of the meat redistribute throughout the bird before you cut into it. Allow 15 to 20 minutes of resting time before carving. You can even extend the resting time up to and hour, just cover with a heavy towel or foil.

What should I make with all the leftovers?

More Turkey Talk…

There are lots of great places to find more information and tips on cooking your Thanksgiving meal… here are just a few.

Food Network, Better Homes & Garden and delish.

And remember this day is for visiting with friends and families so have a plan and be prepared to adjust it because inevitably they will change and you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg either.

Share your best Turkey Tip with us!

Photo credit – Delish

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