Having a perfectly cooked turkey for Thanksgiving is a must for most celebrating the holiday on Thursday, Nov. 24, but it’s not as difficult as some would assume. For those struggling to wrap their heads around cooking up the perfect 2016 Thanksgiving bird, don’t fret! We’ve got the easiest recipe for you to follow!
This 5-step guide, complete with cook time tips and more, will teach you how to roast a bird will ease.
To make this recipe, you will need:
- A fresh or frozen whole turkey (Find out how big of a bird you’ll need to accommodate all your guests here.)
- Paper towels
- An oven-safe thermometer
- A baster
- A shallow roasting pan (2-2.5 inches deep)
- Vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray
- And perhaps, most importantly, up to five hours of your time
Important Tip: Your Thanksgiving turkey needs to be thawed before you can begin cooking it. If you’re uncomfortable with the thawing process, buying a fresh, unfrozen turkey directly from the store is your best route. If you’re already in possession of a frozen turkey, follow this thawing guideline.
Step 1 - Open up your oven and make sure the racks are low enough to accommodate the size of the bird you’ll be cooking. After, pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and then it’s time to prep your bird for the oven.
Step 2 - Remove any packaging (and innards) and pat the bird dry with paper towels. It is not necessary to rinse off the bird. Once complete, place the turkey into a shallow roasting pan breast side up. If there isn’t an oven-safe thermometer already inserted, now is the time to put it in the thigh region. Make sure the thermometer is not touching bone.
Step 3 - If you desire to have a crispy, delicious bird, the next step is very important. Take your vegetable oil and either brush or spray it onto the the bird generously. This will give your bird that perfect crispness when it’s done cooking and add some additional flavor.
When your oven is sufficiently heated to the appropriate temperature, insert your turkey to begin cooking and viola, half the battle is already complete!
Step 4 - When your turkey is 75 percent done roasting (more on cook times below) it’s time to check up on your bird. This is when you’re going to want to remove the bird from the oven and loosely cover the breast and drumsticks with tin foil. This will prevent those regions from becoming dry because, let’s be real, who wants a dry bird after all this work?
Another great way to keep your turkey moist is to baste it, but this step isn’t required. Now is the time to grab your baster and distribute some leaked juices back onto the bird. Once done, put your turkey back into the oven.
Step 5 - You’ll know your turkey is done when the thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast and 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh. It’s very important, however, not to cut into your turkey right away! It’s the best practice to wait up to 15 minutes before carving to let the juices soak back into the bird. Then, you’re done! You’ve just cooked a Thanksgiving turkey and if you followed our guide, it’s bound to be delicious.
Oven Cook Times
The following cook times are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. They are meant for unstuffed turkeys. For those cooking at higher altitudes (5,000 feet and above), Foster Farms suggests roasting your turkey an additional 5-10 minutes per pound at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
4-6 lb. breast - 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours
6-8 lb. breast - 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours
8-12 lbs. - 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12-14 lbs. - 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14-18 lbs. - 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18-20 lbs. - 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20-24 lbs. - 4 1/2 to 5 hours