What I Learned at Butterball University

To all you first time turkey cookers,

First of all, I must fight the urge to say cookie turkers every time I reference a turkey cooker. That being said, the most important lesson I learned at Butterball University?

RELAX. Sheesh, it’s just a turkey and when you buy a Butterball and follow their directions? YOU’LL BE FINE.

I know, I know. You’re thinking “But it’s so big! I watched my mother and my grandmother slave away all day over turkeys only to end up with turkey shaped shoe leather when it finally came time for dinner!” Did you know that over half of EXPERIENCED turkey cookers overcook their turkeys by almost an HOUR? But not you right? The goal of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is to talk you through the experience, to make sure that you are confident that when we say “YOU CAN COOK A DELICIOUS TURKEY!” they mean it.

If you can get the preparation right, the turkey practically cooks itself. All that basting my mom has done over the years? Not even necessary. Brining? Not needed with a Butterball turkey. There are indeed over a dozen ways to cook a turkey, but for us first timers? All we need is an open shallow sided pan, some oil, a thermometer and an oven. Honestly. THAT’S IT!

Butterball’s open pan method directions are included in every fresh and frozen turkey, and as long as you get the thigh meat to 180 degrees and the stuffing (if you choose) to 165 degrees, you’re done. Seriously. Take it out. Let it rest 15 minutes before carving. Seriously. You’re done. You just cooked your first turkey. And I’ll bet armed with knowledge from Butterball.com it’s an even better turkey than your mom made.

Butterball Univeristy 2009

That’s the thing, Butterball turkeys are foolproof. And I’m not just saying that. They put so much passion into their turkeys that they are practically foolproof. Even those experienced turkey cookers who where overcooking their turkeys by an hour? Still ended up with a delicious Thanksgiving meal. One thing I found fascinating? Butterball actually takes the time to remove tendons from the turkey legs. So if you’re a dark meat lover (HI! That’s me.) You can dig into your turkey leg with even more ease and less of a need to floss.

As far as everything else you first timers out there? Think of delegating other guests to provide side dishes. Or if you insist on doing it all yourself, prepare as much as you can in the days before so all you have to do is heat up your side dishes the day of. And if you get to Thanksgiving day and find that you’re overwhelmed and ready to cry? (And you don’t want to have to call your mother in law and give her the satisfaction of knowing how stressed out you are?) Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL. 55 mothers, sisters, daughters and grandmothers are at the other end of that phone number ready to help YOU.

And all 55 of them have something in common.

Butterball Univeristy 2009

They all love turkey. And they want you to succeed.

Butterball Univeristy 2009

They spend weeks in training every year. Most of them have been turkey talkers for over a decade if not two.

Butterball Univeristy 2009

Honestly you’d be foolish not to utilize these ladies. Not up for chatting? Butterball will even send texts to your phone, two or three a week with reminders of when to buy your turkey, how much to buy, how long to thaw and those handy internal temperature reminders, simply text “TURKEY” to 36888.

And they don’t just talk turkey. Almost all of these women hold degrees in nutrition, home economics or some other culinary art. I know I feel much more confident when it comes to my first Thanksgiving after simply hearing “Turkeys are not that hard. You can do it.”

So I say unto you, my first time cookie turkers…Turkeys are not hard to cook. You (yes you!) can (and will!) do just fine. Promise.


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  1. […] most likely be staying in this tiny hotel room for Thanksgiving. The really good news? Thanks to Turkey School I know how to cook a turkey in the microwave (which I have, along with a minifridge. MINIFRIDGE […]

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