Thanksgiving Tips Then and Now; What’s Changed?

Remember when? It seemed like it took all day for the turkey to cook?

And now? Our turkeys are so tender and juicy that an up to 18 pound unstuffed turkey cooks in only 3-3½ hours at 325⁰F using our open roasting pan method. The important thing to remember is to get the turkey from the 40⁰F refrigerator to an internal temperature of 140⁰F in four hours.

Remember when? We thought it was necessary to baste a turkey every 30 minutes?

And now? Butterball turkeys are pre-basted so there is no need to do so! Plus, we know constant basting only adds to the cooking time since the oven loses heat every time it is opened. Basting can frazzle the cook and since the juices often land in the oven instead of the turkey, it can create an unpleasant burning smell is your kitchen.

Remember when? We didn’t realize that turkey could be cooked ahead of time?

And now? You can easily do that- even the night before Thanksgiving and here’s how.

First, cook the turkey the night before, preferably in the open roasting pan method, which is my favorite way to cook a turkey. Then monitor the internal temperature of the turkey, which, when fully-cooked, should register a breast temperature of 170⁰F and the thigh should reach 180⁰F. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes and then carve the turkey and place in storage containers in the refrigerator within two hours after carving. The next day, all you need to do is re-heat the turkey.

Remember when? We weren’t quite sure when the turkey was done so we probably overcooked it and then tried wiggling bones, squeezing thighs or poking the turkey just to “be sure?”

And now? We know meat thermometers are your best friend.  No guesswork and no overcooking. Yay! Butterball can show you how to properly use your thermometer.

Remember when? We thought cooking a whole turkey was the only way to make Thanksgiving dinner?

And now? While families may cook whole turkeys, since turkey parts are easy to find many people opt for partial pieces (like several breasts or only the legs and thighs for those who prefer dark meat). It is nice to have options.

Remember when? We thought roasting a turkey was the way to cook a turkey?

And now? Many people have questions about deep-frying, convection cooking, smoking, gas or charcoal grilling and more…you can find answers to your questions about many different options on

Remember when? We weren’t sure if we should stuff a turkey?

And now? You can stuff a turkey but be sure that it is completely thawed. Put the stuffing into the turkey right before cooking and, most importantly, check the internal temperature of the stuffing to ensure it reaches 165⁰F before removing from the oven. This is another great use for a good meat thermometer.

Remember when? We looked forward to Thanksgiving and that delicious turkey?

And now? Some things never change! We still look forward to a tender, juicy and delicious turkey especially since cooking turkey is the easiest part of any meal.  It will be for you, too. Thanksgiving is still all about creating happy memories while enjoying a meal together.  So, do as I do, and invite your family and friends over and cook a big turkey!

Here’s how to make the perfect turkey this Thanksgiving…

  • Before roasting, be sure the turkey is thawed. Pat it dry with paper towels inside and out- and do not forget to remove the giblets!
  • There is no need to wash or soak a turkey like we used to. Brush the turkey with your favorite oil (any kind of oil you have is fine) and place in a shallow pan (about 2-21/2” deep) that has a flat rack inside.
  • Place the turkey uncovered in a 325⁰F oven, close the door and relax.
  • When the turkey is about 2/3 of the way finished cooking, cover the breast loosely with a tent of Reynolds® foil and continue roasting until the internal temperatures reach 170⁰F in the breast and 180⁰F in the thigh. Since the breast tends to get up to temperature sooner than the thighs, the use of foil slows down the breast cooking while the thighs get to 180⁰F.
  • Let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes.
  • After time has passed, the turkey needs to be removed from the bone before it can be stored in the refrigerator. My favorite way is to cut off the legs and thighs, leave them in large pieces and place in a shallow, greased pan. Cut the breast meat off in two big pieces, one from each side, placing them in the pan.
  • Add a little broth to the pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • To reheat on Thanksgiving, just place the pan in a 350⁰F oven for about 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140⁰-150⁰F. Slice & enjoy.
  • Another option is to slice the turkey instead of leaving it in larger pieces, adding the broth, covering and refrigerating overnight. Either way, the turkey will be delicious.


Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Butterball.

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