How To: Turkey
09.27.2022 Tips & Tricks
Turkey so good, you’ll gobble it right up! Our Turkeys are on sale, whether you’re practicing to wow the family on Thanksgiving, or just making your week-night dinner (and leftovers for tomorrows lunch and dinner) Cooking a Turkey is easier than you think! We have the answers to all of your questions right here!
Cooking a Whole Turkey- the necessities.
- How big of a turkey?
Buy 1 to 1 1/2 pounds turkey for each guest.
- How long does it take to cook the turkey?
13 minutes of cooking time for each pound of turkey if roasting empty, and 15 minutes per pound if stuffed.
- What temperature do I cook the turkey?
Preheat the oven to 450°F then drop the temperature to 350°F after putting the turkey into the oven.
- What temperature should the turkey be?
The turkey is done when it hits a minimum of 165° in the thickest part of the thigh.
- How long should I rest the turkey?
Rest the turkey for at least 15 minutes before carving, 30 minutes max.
How to Safely Thaw a Frozen Turkey
- Be sure to let your turkey completely thaw before cooking. The best way is to place the turkey on a baking sheet and thaw in the refrigerator.
- A frozen turkey needs about 24 hours of thawing time for every five pounds of turkey.
- For quicker thawing, place the turkey in a cold water bath (it is not safe to thaw a turkey with warm water) and change the water every 30 minutes or so until it’s thawed — about a half-hour per pound.
How to Brine a Turkey
- 1 Turkey
- Maximize your flavor: bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves, juniper berries, allspice berries, orange peels, lemon peels, carrots, parsley, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, apple juice or cider, oregano, thyme, garlic, onion, brown sugar, paprika
- 1 gallon of water, divided
- 1 cup kosher salt, or 3/4 cup table salt
- Find a pot and make fridge space. Find a pot or food-safe bucket large enough that you will be able to entirely submerge the turkey. Next, clear some refrigerator space and make sure your pot will fit.
- Place the turkey in the pot. Unwrap your turkey and remove the giblets, then transfer it to the pot.
- Mix the brine solution. Bring half of the water to a boil and then whisk in all of the seasonings and salt. Using hot water helps the salt dissolve and flavors to infuse the water. Add anything you’d like for flavoring, use whole ingredients here (cinnamon sticks vs ground) for the ultimate effect. Allow to cool fully- putting the turkey in hot water will just cook it and we aren’t ready for that yet!
- Pour the brine solution over the turkey. Pour the salt water over the turkey.
- Pour the remaining water over the turkey. This dilutes the salt solution to the best ratio for brining and also helps further cool the solution.
- Make sure the turkey is completely submerged. If needed, prepare more brine solution at a ratio of 1/4 cup salt per quart of water to completely submerge the turkey.
- Cover and refrigerate. If the turkey floats, weigh it down with a dinner plate. Cover and place it in the refrigerator.
- Brine for 12 to 24 hours. Brine the turkey in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
- Rinse the turkey in cool water and pat dry. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Dry for another 24 hours for crispier skin (optional). If you have time, let the turkey air-dry overnight in the refrigerator. Place the turkey on a roasting rack set inside a roasting pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap to prevent cross contamination. This drying step will give your turkey crispier skin.
- Roast as usual, but check your turkey early. You can roast the turkey either immediately after brining or after air-drying. I’ve found that brined turkeys tend to cook a bit more quickly, so roast as usual, but start checking the turkey’s temperature an hour before the end of your estimated cooking time.
How to Cook an Entire Turkey
- Prepare the turkey for roasting. Thirty minutes to an hour before roasting, take the turkey out of the refrigerator. Remove any packaging and set the turkey breast-side up on the roasting rack set in a roasting pan and let it sit while the oven preheats. This takes the chill off the meat, which helps the meat cook faster and more evenly. It also gives the skin time to dry out, which promotes browning and crisping.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Position an oven rack in the bottom third of your oven and remove any racks above it. If you brined your turkey, no need to do anything now. If your turkey is straight out of the package, rub it with some salt and pepper before putting it in the oven.
- Add liquid to the roasting pan. When ready to roast, pour the broth or water into the roasting pan.
- Place the turkey in the oven and turn down the heat to 350°F. We recommend roasting turkeys breast-side up. Some people like starting the turkey breast-side down to shield the breast meat, but the idea of flipping a hot, sputtering turkey is not our idea of a good time. Instead, we prefer to simply shield the breast meat with aluminum foil toward the end of cooking if it starts getting too browned.
- Roast the turkey. The rule of thumb for cooking a turkey is 13 minutes per pound. However, some factors like brining the bird, cooking with an empty (un-stuffed) cavity, and leaving the legs un-trussed will contribute to much faster cooking. Plan on the 13-minute-per-pound rule, but start checking the temperature of your turkey about halfway through the scheduled cooking time to gauge how fast it’s cooking.
- Baste the turkey every 45 minutes. To baste, tilt the pan if needed and use a turkey baster or spoon to scoop up the pan liquids and drizzle them on top of the turkey. Basting with pan juices cools the surface of the turkey and slows down cooking, which in turn keeps the breast meat cooking at close to the same rate as the legs and thighs. In the last 45 minutes or so of cooking, you can also baste the turkey with melted butter or oil. This helps crisp up the skin and turn it a beautiful deep golden brown.
- Check the turkey’s temperature. Begin checking the turkey’s temperature about halfway through the estimated cooking time. Check the temperature in three places: the breast, outer thigh, and inside thigh. In every case, the meat should be at least 165°F when the turkey has finished cooking. If any place is under that temperature, put the turkey back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Shield the breast meat with foil if needed to keep it from overcooking.
- Rest the turkey before carving. Remove the turkey from the oven, then, lift the whole turkey (still on the rack) and transfer it to a clean cutting board. Tent the turkey loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. This gives time for the meat to firm up and the juices to be reabsorbed into the muscle tissue, making the turkey easier to slice and taste juicier.