My Five Best Ever Turkey Tips
Is this your first holiday turkey or, have you been hosting the family feast for years?
In either case, you want everything perfect. The star of the show, the turkey, needs to be moist, juicy and tender. It also needs to arrive at the table golden brown, steaming hot and of course, on time!
The mission of all the Turkey Talk-Line experts is to make You the Turkey Expert in your kitchen. As one of Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line experts, I have some of the best ever turkey tips to share. Roasting a turkey is really easy if you use the Butterball open pan method. You can find the directions here at Butterball.com or printed in the cooking guide that comes with each and every Butterball turkey.
Tip One: Buy 1 ½ pounds of turkey per guest
This will be a generous holiday portion for each guest and allow enough extra turkey so you can enjoy several leftover meals. (Tip-within a-Tip: Check out the leftover recipes on our site – my favorite is the Turkey Salsa Soup – so simple, yet so good!)
Tip Two: Thaw your turkey on a tray in your refrigerator
Seven out of ten cooks buy a frozen turkey for their holiday meal. The #1 question we get at the Talk-Line is “how to thaw.”
The easiest way to thaw is on a tray in your refrigerator. But, you do need to plan ahead. It takes one day to thaw each 4-pounds of turkey. For example, a 16 pound turkey = four full days of thawing. See Butterball’s How To Thaw Video for more information!
(Tip-within a-Tip: Remember, Thanksgiving is a roasting day not a thawing day! Once your turkey is fully thawed, you can store it in the refrigerator for an additional four days.)
Tip Three: Be prepared. Gather all your turkey roasting equipment before T-Day
Once before gaining the title of Turkey Talk-Line expert, I had a turkey that was too large for my roasting pan. I used a cookie sheet. What a mess!
Use a pan that has sides about 2-inches high. Give your turkey a test drive to make sure it fits.
Have a rack at the bottom of the pan to allow air flow around the turkey. The turkey juices will brown better with a rack adding flavor to your gravy.
No rack? Take 2-feet of foil, crunch it lengthwise, then form a coil. Use the coil on the bottom of the pan in place of a rack.
(Tip-within a-Tip: When buying a disposable foil pan, read the label instructions. Place a baking sheet under the pan for added stability – wise advice!)
Tip Four: Always keep oil and foil close by
To give the turkey a special glow, spray or brush with vegetable oil.
To keep the white turkey breast meat tender and juicy, roast at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the turkey has been in the oven for two-thirds of the cooking time, cover the turkey breast with a small piece of foil (I recommend the size of a notebook sheet of paper). This method will yield great results, even your “dark” meat lovers will be grabbing for a slice.
Tip Five: Have an accurate meat thermometer
Taking the temperature deep inside the turkey muscle is the best way to know when your holiday turkey is done.
The “is my turkey done?” question is one I hear over and over on Thanksgiving Day. Yes, it is done when the thermometer registers 170 degrees Fahrenheit in the deep breast, 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the inner thigh and if your turkey is stuffed, it should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit before the turkey comes out of oven. Check out this easy guide on Meat Thermometer Placement and Checking for Doneness.
These are my Top Five Turkey Tips. But, if you would like more tips from a Butterball Talk-Line expert, just “Butterball It.” When you go to Butterball.com you can get all your turkey questions answered by the wisdom of the Turkey Talk-Line when you visit Butterball.com. We’re also here to help anytime. Call us at 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372) and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Live Chat, Pinterest, or download our free Butterball Cookbook Plus App.