Tips for Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey


Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday for gathering friends and family together and reflecting on everything we’re thankful for. However, some folks might look at the holiday and see stress, endless preparation, and pressure—especially over the meal. The turkey, in particular, is a daunting Thanksgiving tradition that takes some practice to get right. Don’t let the woes of hosting Thanksgiving get you down—follow these tips for cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey to wow your family and friends.

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Let It Defrost Completely

Your turkey will taste the best and be safest to eat if you let it thaw completely before cooking. You can do this in a couple of ways. You can thaw it in the microwave oven, in the refrigerator, or in a cold-water bath. If you’re running low on time, opt for the cold-water bath or microwave oven—large 20–24-pound turkeys can take days to thaw out in the refrigerator.

Decide How You Want to Cook It

There are many ways to cook your turkey, including but not limited to: 

  • Roasting
  • Smoking
  • Grilling
  • Deep-frying
  • Slow-cooking

Make sure you’ve decided in advance which method you want to use to cook your turkey. The most common method is to roast it, but you can find recipes available for any of these methods and more. Choose whichever technique you have the utensils for and whichever sounds the tastiest.

Don’t Let It Dry Out

Easier said than done, right? However, we’ve got some tips to help you keep your turkey nice and juicy. Another benefit of making sure your turkey defrosts completely is that it helps prevent dry meat. Turkey is a lean meat, and lean meats are infamous for drying out easily, but there are ways to cook lean meat without it drying out. For example, don’t cook it for too long at too high a temperature. Make sure you’re ready with the meat thermometer to remove the turkey as soon as the breast reads 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Even before you cook it, consider adding a brine to help trap moisture during cooking.

Now that you have these tips for cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey, you can forget about some of the stresses of cooking and get back to enjoying the holiday.

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