Top 10 Turkey Cooking Tips

Written by: Editorial Staff

November 9, 2011
Filed Under Food 

Tags: , ,

One of the top ten turkey cooking tipsContributed by Jennifer Andrews, Top 10 Guru

Cooking a turkey can be intimidating for people that have limited culinary skills in the kitchen outside of reheating leftovers in the microwave.

However, with a little knowledge and confidence, you can cook your own turkey at home for a healthy meal that is nutrient-rich and delicious! Here is a list of top 10 tips for cooking a turkey that will help you save time, energy and stress and improve your home-cooking skills. The end result is a tasty turkey that will have family and friends asking for more.

10. Thaw ahead of time

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

Thawing your turkey well in advance of cooking will save you time and decrease the risks of eating under-cooked meat. A 20-lb. turkey requires up to 3 days for thawing. While smaller turkeys may be taken out a day before. Thaw turkeys in the refrigerator as opposed to the kitchen counter to avoid temperature extremes or leaking.

9. Cooking times

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

Knowing the size of your bird can help determine how long it will need to cook. In general, the bigger the turkey, the longer it will need in the oven. An unthawed turkey will require approximately 20 minutes per lb. in an oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Speak with your butcher or Whole Foods for an average estimate of cooking time if unsure.

8. Stuff your turkey

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

Stuffing, or dressing, the inside of your turkey adds flavour, depth and appeal to picky eaters. Consider stuffing a turkey with a home-made mixture of whole-wheat bread crumbs, vegetables such as onions, garlic and mushrooms or buy a pre-made stuffing.

7. Remove the insides

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

A common mistake for many first-time turkey cookers is forgetting to remove the insides, or giblets, of the bird before roasting. The giblets include the organs of the turkey such as its heart and liver. Remove prior to inserting it into the oven and then add stuffing if desired.

6. Add seasonings

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

Season your turkey with various herbs and spices for a healthy turkey that is aromatic and lower in fat. Add rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano and black pepper prior to roasting in the oven.

5. Lightly oil

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

Before roasting your turkey, apply a vegetable oil such as olive or canola oil to the outside layer of meat. In addition to flavour, the oil will help increase cooking times and create a crispier skin with a tender meat serving.

4. Wrap it up

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

Once you’ve oiled and seasoning your bird, wrap it up in a tin-foil layer to prevent it from burning or getting too brown in the oven. The foil will help keep the bird moist and decrease risks of dry or hardened meat.

3. Use a thermometer

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

Once your estimated roasting time is complete, insert a cooking thermometer into the turkey to check for doneness. The thermometer should read approximately 165 to 180 degrees when inserted in its most dense area, typically between the breast and leg bone.

2. Keep it warm

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

Once the turkey is cooked, avoid leaving it out on the counter or table at room temperature for greater than two hours. Rather, keep it covered on a serving plate or pan with foil for up to 15 to 20 minutes. If more time is needed to prepare the rest of the meal, keep it in the oven at a low, warming temperature only.

1. Save the leftovers

One of the top ten turkey cooking tips

When carving your turkey, avoid throwing out leftover bones and juices from the roasting pan. These may be saved and used to prepare a turkey broth later for turkey and vegetable soups. Furthermore, leftover turkey that isn’t served immediately can be placed in food storage containers once cooled and eaten with sandwiches and salads later that week.


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