Five Tips for Roasting the Perfect Turkey
- How much turkey do you need to plan for each person? When deciding how large of a bird to buy, consider that each guest will eat about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each. Plus, you’ll probably want some leftovers!
- How long does it take to thaw a frozen turkey? You need to plan ahead! Turkey should be placed in the refrigerator to thaw. It will take about one day (a full 24 hours) for every 5 pounds. Don’t try to speed it up by soaking the bird in warm water. Doing so will warm portions of the bird too much and may lead to food poisoning.
- Why should you brine a turkey? The brining process results in a more tender and flavorful turkey. The salt in the brine breaks down the protein of the muscle fibers. As a result, the meat absorbs the brine and retains moisture during cooking. There are many recipes online for different types of brine–some using just water and kosher salt, while others call for herbs and beer, yet others are dry rather than wet. The bird should be fully thawed. Allow the turkey to remain in the brine in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Rinse the brine well from the inside and outside of the bird before cooking it.
- How long does it take to roast a turkey? A good approximation is 20 minutes per pound. The turkey is done when the thickest part of the thigh meat is 165°F.
- Should you allow the turkey to sit for a while before serving it? Yes, this is called “resting” and allows the juices in the meat to settle before you slice it. Turkey should rest for about 30 minutes before you begin to carve it.
Simple Steps for Roasting a Turkey
Cooking a turkey is an art form. There’s no single way to do it, and most Thanksgiving home chefs will have their tried and true family-test traditional formula. If, however, you’re feeling intimidated, we’ve got your back. Here is a breakdown of simple steps for roasting a turkey. We think you’ll agree it’s much easier than you thought!
- At this point, your turkey should be thawed entirely (if it started as a frozen bird) and brined.
- Prep the turkey. Ensure all the brine is rinsed off, and dry the bird with paper towels. Remove the giblets from inside the bird.
- Preheat your oven to 325°F. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, and ensure your roasting pan fits in the oven with the door closed.
- Tuck the wings. This keeps them from burning. Lay the turkey down with the breast side up and legs pointing towards you. Turn the tips of the wings around so they are pointing towards the front of the bird and tuck them underneath. You don’t need to fasten them-the weight of the bird will keep them in place.
- Truss the turkey. Binding the bird will help it cook evenly and give it a plump shape. Lay the bird flat with the breast side up and legs pointed towards you. Wrap a long piece of butcher’s twine around the turkey’s neck to attach it. Draw each end of the cord backward over the top of the wings and behind the breastplate. Tie into a knot. Cross the legs together and use the twine to tie them in place.
- Season the turkey. Place the turkey into the roasting pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the bird–inside and outside. Some cooks flavor the bird by filling the cavity with carrots, celery, onion, or garlic. Brush the turkey with olive oil or melted butter.
- Tent the bird. Place a piece of foil over the top of the roasting pan to prevent burning.
- Start roasting it. Place the bird in the oven and set the time for two hours. When the timer goes off, remove the foil and baste the turkey with olive oil or butter.
- Turn up the heat. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F and continue roasting the bird.
- Finish roasting it. Roast the bird until the internal temperature of the thickest thigh is 165F. A good approximation for cooking time is about 20 minutes for each pound of turkey.
- Allow it to rest. Once the turkey has cooked, allow it to rest for about 30 minutes before carving it.