Tips and tricks for cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey

Tips and tricks for cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey

COLORADO, USA – Eating a perfectly cooked turkey as the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal may seem intimidating.

But actually, cooking a turkey is very easy.

Here are some tips and tricks to make sure your product comes out perfect.

Grilling basics

Here are the basic steps for roasting a Butterball turkey:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Remove the bag containing the giblets from inside the turkey. Drain the juice and pat the turkey gently with paper towels.
  3. Place the turkey on a rack inside the roasting pan*, breast side up. Flip the wings back. Brush or spray the leather with oil.
  4. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the turkey. It should be placed in the lower part of the thigh, without touching the bone.
  5. Start by baking the turkey.
  6. Once the turkey is about 2/3 cooked, cover it loosely with aluminum foil so the skin doesn’t burn.
  7. When you think the turkey should be done (see time estimates below), check the temperature to be sure. The thigh reaches 180 degrees, and the turkey is ready.
  8. Place the turkey on a plate and leave for 15 minutes.

*If you don’t have a rack, you can use vegetable or crumpled aluminum foil to keep the turkey off the bottom of the pan. This ensures it cooks evenly.

Cooking time

The length of time you need to cook the turkey depends on its weight and whether or not it is stuffed.

These are just estimates. Always look at the temperature to determine if your turkey is finished cooking. When the thigh reaches 180 degrees and the breast or stuffing reaches 170 degrees, the turkey is done.

Credit: Butterball

Cooking times for a turkey in a regular 325 degree oven via Butterball.


Preparing the turkey before roasting is a great way to make sure it stays moist.

As a general rule, you should soak your turkey for about an hour per pound, according to Butterball. Here’s how it works:

  1. The night before roasting, remove the entrails from the turkey and rinse it inside and out.
  2. Prepare your own brine recipe. Mix the ingredients until all the salt dissolves and cools to room temperature.
  3. Place the turkey, breast side down, in a brining container or bag. It should be able to fit in your refrigerator and be made of food grade plastic, stainless steel or glass.
  4. Pour in the liquid until it completely covers the turkey.
  5. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour per pound of turkey.
  6. Remove Türkiye from brine. Rinse and pat dry gently. Roast as directed above.


Since the brine is used to keep the turkey moist, the marinade is used to add flavor.

There are hundreds of recipes for turkey marinade: everything from spicy Cajun to sweet pineapple and teriyaki to rich bourbon and cola.

No matter what you choose, you’ll need about 1/4 cup of marinade per pound of meat, according to Butterball.

Depending on the recipe, you will marinate the turkey for between two and eight hours. If it’s on the shorter end, you can prepare the marinade ahead of time so the flavors have time to develop before adding the turkey. Be sure to never exceed eight hours to protect the texture of the turkey.

Always make sure the marinade is cold before pouring it over the turkey and marinating the turkey in the refrigerator.

Fry the turkey

If you don’t want to roast your turkey, deep frying has become more popular over the past several years.

Fried turkey is especially tender and moist, and has a delicious crispy outside.

Here’s how to do it, according to Butterball:

  1. Remove the entrails from your turkey and make sure it is completely thawed. Leave it until it dries. If your turkey weighs 14 pounds or less, it can be fried whole. Otherwise, separate the legs and thighs to fry them separately*.
  2. Add oil to your frying pan. Do not exceed the maximum fill line on the electric fryer. If you are using a propane deep fryer, you can find out how much you will need by placing the turkey in the fryer, filling it with water until the turkey is covered, and marking the line.
  3. Heat the oil to 375 degrees.
  4. Submerge the empty frying basket in the hot oil for about 30 seconds and then remove it to help prevent sticking.
  5. If you are using a propane fryer, turn off the burner. Add the turkey to the basket and slowly immerse it in the oil. If the turkey is not completely covered in the electric fryer, it will still be well cooked.
  6. Cook the turkey for three to four minutes per pound, then check the temperature. When dark meat reaches 175°F to 180°C, and white meat reaches 165°F to 170°C, it is done.
  7. Lift the turkey in the basket from the fryer and place it in a pan or on paper towels to drain. Leave it for about 20 minutes before removing it from the basket to carve.

*If you are frying the turkey pieces separately, they must be cooked in oil heated to 325 degrees. It will take four to five minutes per pound.

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