Cooking a turkey can seem like a daunting task for both beginners and seasoned chefs. Luckily for those who have been entrusted to cook their family’s Thanksgiving turkey, here are 10 easy tips to successfully roast the perfect bird this Turkey Day. (These tips are most helpful if you’re cooking a frozen or fresh whole turkey.)
1. Don’t forget to completely thaw out your turkey. According to TheKitchn.com, the best way to defrost a turkey is to first allow it to sit in a refrigerator for 24 hours for every five pounds it weighs. To speed up the thawing process, some prefer to place their turkey in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until the bird is completely defrosted.
2. As suggested by Butterball.com, preheat your oven (whether regular or convection) to 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Drain the juices off the turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
4. Place the turkey in a 2- to 2.5-inch deep cooking pan, depending on the bird's size. The bird should always be cooked facing breast up.
5. Spray or brush on cooking or vegetable oil to give the bird a more “crispy” appearance when it’s fully cooked. (To make your carving job easier after the bird is cooked, tuck the bird’s wings.)
6. To keep track of the bird’s temperature (to make sure it’s adequately cooked and safe to eat later on), insert an oven-safe thermometer into one of the bird’s thighs (a thick region) making sure to stay away from any of the bird’s bones.
7. Place your turkey in the oven once it is preheated to the corresponding temperature (look below for more information).
8. When your turkey is two-thirds of the way done cooking (see information below), it is best to wrap the breast of the bird and the drumsticks with tin foil to keep your turkey from getting too dry. Adding vegetables to your pan, such as carrots, can also help in keeping your turkey from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
9. Before serving your turkey, make sure it reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. Let your turkey sit for approximately 15 minutes before carving and then, enjoy!
Depending on your turkey’s weight, and if you choose to stuff it, different cooking times and temperatures are needed in order to ensure your bird will be safe to serve.
REGULAR OVEN COOK TIMES:
4.5-7 lbs. 2-2.5 hrs. (unstuffed) 2 ¼-2 ¾ hrs. (stuffed)
7-9 lbs. 2.5-3 hrs. (unstuffed) 2 ¾- 4.5 hrs. (stuffed)
9-18 lbs. 3-3.5 hrs. (unstuffed) 3 ¾-4.5 hrs. (stuffed)
18-22 lbs. 3.5-4 hrs. (unstuffed) 4.5-5 hrs. (stuffed)
22-24 lbs. 4-4.5 hrs. (unstuffed) 5-5.5 hrs. (stuffed)
24-30 lbs. 4.5-5 hrs. (unstuffed) 5.5-6 ¼ hrs. (stuffed)
CONVECTION OVEN COOK TIMES:
6-10 lbs. 1.5-2 hrs. (unstuffed) 1 ¾- 2.5 hrs. (stuffed)
10-18 lbs. 2-2.5 hrs. (unstuffed) 2.5-3 ¼ (stuffed)
18-22 lbs. 2.50-3 hrs. (unstuffed) 3 ¼- 3 ¾ hrs. (stuffed)
22-24 lbs. 3-3.5 hrs. (unstuffed) 3 ¾-4 ¼ hrs. (stuffed)