The holidays are officially upon us, and while our shopping may be done, the task of cooking Christmas dinner looms. While many opt to make a ham on Dec. 25, turkey is also a popular main dish. For those who are beginners in the kitchen, or for those who just simply need a refresher in how to make a holiday bird and stuffing in the oven, here is an easy 10-step recipe, courtesy of Butterball, to help you make the perfect turkey for Christmas:
Before you begin cooking, it’s crucial that you remember to defrost your turkey. There are several ways you can do this safely. Ahead of use, turkey’s should always be kept cold in a refrigerator, not outdoors. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, turkeys can be thawed in a microwave, by using a refrigerator, or by applying the cold water method.
For the stuffing, you will need:
- Bacon (12 ounces sliced in 1/2 inch pieces)
- Onion (4 cups chopped)
- Celery (3 cups chopped)
- Dried apples (1 cup chopped)
- Pecans (6 cups chopped/toasted)
- Dried thyme (1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 package of cornbread stuffing crumbs
- Low-sodium chicken broth (2 1/2 cups)
- Melted butter (1/2 cup)
- Non-stick cooking spray
For the turkey, you will need:
- One fresh or frozen whole turkey. There is no right or wrong size when it comes to picking the perfect turkey. If your unsure how big of a bird you will need to accommodate your guests, use this website’s guide as a reference.
- Cooking spray
- A 2-2 1/2-inch-deep cooking pan
- Tin foil
- Water or chicken broth (if you’re planning on basting)
- A baster
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. While you’re waiting for the oven to heat up, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy in texture. Remove the bacon and save two teaspoons of bacon grease from the pan after cooking and discard the rest.
3. Add your celery and onions to the same pan and place them into the remaining bacon drippings. Cook together on a medium-high heat for up to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
4. Combine the bacon, onions, celery, dried apples, pecans, dried thyme, sage, stuffing combs, broth and butter into one dish. (Put up to seven cups of stuffing to the side if you want to place it inside your turkey.) Put the stuffing in a sprayed baking dish (preferably 1 1/2-quart deep) and baked covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes.
5. Before you begin preparing your bird for the oven, set the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While you’re waiting for the oven to warm, remove any packaging the bird came in and pat it dry of any excess juices.
6. Place the bird in the roasting pan making sure to leave it breast side up. In order to make carving the turkey easier, make sure to tuck its wings back. (See how to do that here.)
7. Give the turkey a swift brush with cooking spray. (This will make it look more appealing when its done cooking.) Put a meat thermometer in the deepest section of the thigh — making sure not to touch the bone — before placing the bird in the oven.
Note: If you want to put stuffing in your bird, now is the time to do so.
8. In order you keep your bird moist while roasting, Williams Sonoma advises to baste your turkey every 30 minutes using its own juices. Water/chicken broth can also be used.
9. When your bird is 2/3 of the way done (more on cook times below), cover up the breast and the top of the drumsticks with tin foil. Doing this will keep your bird from drying out.
10. When your turkey is done cooking — the thermometer should read 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh — remove the turkey from the roasting pan and place it onto a platter. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before carving, and then, enjoy!
Oven cook time tips for Turkey (via Butterball):
For a regular oven
4½-7 pounds: 2-2½ hours (unstuffed), 2¼-2¾ hours (stuffed)
7-9 pounds: 2½-3 hours (unstuffed), 2¾- 4½ hours (stuffed)
9-18 pounds: 3-3½ hours (unstuffed), 3¾-4½ hours (stuffed)
18-22 pounds: 3½-4 hours (unstuffed), 4½-5 hours (stuffed)
22-24 pounds: 4-4½ hours (unstuffed), 5-5½ hours (stuffed)
24-30 pounds: 4½-5 hours (unstuffed), 5½-6¼ hours (stuffed)
For a convection oven
6-10 pounds: 1½-2 hours (unstuffed), 1¾- 2½ hours (stuffed)
10-18 pounds: 2-2½ hours (unstuffed), 2½-3¼ hours (stuffed)
18-22 pounds: 2½-3 hours (unstuffed), 3¼-3¾ hours (stuffed)
22-24 pounds: 3-3½ hours (unstuffed), 3¾-4¼ hours (stuffed)