Time-Honored Turkey Tips

It’s that time of year, the leaves have fallen, the temperature has dropped and it is my favorite season: fall. Every year I look forward to Thanksgiving, thinking about my family members who will be able to celebrate with us this year and planning for my family’s must-have favorite dishes.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday because it is simply about family and food. I love working on the Butterball Turkey Talk-line as a turkey expert.   Working at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line on Thanksgiving Day For the last 10 years, has not stopped me from hosting Thanksgiving dinner each year with my family. Over these years, I have developed successful routines that help me host a successful party.  Today, I’m excited to share are my “time honored tips” tips with you!
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Tip 1: Organize

Order reduces stress, so get organized! Before the big day, as time allows, you can decide your menu, inventory your serving and dinner dishes and cooking equipment (you may need to borrow or buy items). I suggest making a running grocery list you add to as you think of things you need for the gathering.  If you have the space, you can set these items aside and label them with sticky notes.

Tip 2: Delegate!

Asking or accepting help makes you a gracious and smart host. It is definitely a team effort in my house. With the help of my family working together, we are able to host a successful party.  I think everyone likes to participate in some way and, from preparation to clean-up, there is a job for everyone’s skill level. Don’t forget, kids are great helpers and it’s a fun way for them to learn.  When everyone helps everyone has more fun!

Tip 3: Know the answer to what may I bring?

You have already made your menu, so when people what they may bring, you should be ready. If they offer to bring their specialty item take them up on it. They will be proud to bring it!  If they don’t know what to bring or don’t have time to prepare something from scratch, you can suggest they bring something easy and delicious like a Marie Callender’s® dessert favorite, or Sister Schubert’s® dinner rolls.

Tip 4: What size turkey?

When you know how many people are coming you will know how large of a turkey to purchase.  The general rule of thumb is 1.5 lbs per person (Butterball can help you calculate your portions). If you have a large crowd, this could mean quite a large turkey. I like to buy two turkeys of approximately the same size that equal the total weight needed. This way I have more legs for the dark meat lovers and two smaller turkeys will cook in less time than one very large turkey.

Tip 5: Thawing time

Allow enough time to completely thaw your turkey- you can always use the Butterball Thaw Time Calculator to get the timing right. A properly thawed turkey will cook evenly and will be done at the expected time to serve your hungry waiting crowd. Or you can buy a Fresh Butterball with no thawing necessary.  Either way, be sure to put it on a tray when in your refrigerator when thawing or storing.

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Tip 6: Is it done?

Take the guess work out of knowing when your turkey is done by using a thermometer. I like using an oven-safe thermometer because you can place it in the turkey before it goes into the oven and you need to quickly check the temperature at the minimum roasting time. A thermometer provides finite information: it is done at 180⁰F in the thigh, 170⁰F in the breast and 165⁰F in the center if it is stuffed.  When it has reached temperature, be sure to let the turkey rest for 15 minutes so all of the delicious juices remain.

Tip 7: The reward

After the turkey has been devoured and the desserts enjoyed, I like to just watch and listen to the gathering of family and friends. The older cousins enjoy each other, the little ones having fun and the adults taking time just to sit around and talk with each other.  It’s a great opportunity to watch how food and holidays go hand-in-hand as powerful memory makers.

Of course, if you need help preparing your Thanksgiving dinner, the Turkey Talk-Line is here to help. Call us at 1-800-BUTTERBALL or you can ask your questions on Facebook, Twitter and our Live Chats.

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