In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Thanksgiving Turkey Prep 101

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, that means it’s almost time to consume our body weight in turkey! Cooking a turkey properly is essential for maximum deliciousness. The amount of time it takes to cook a turkey is going to be dictated by the size of the turkey, and whether it is stuffed or unstuffed. We’re going to help you prepare a great turkey for your family!
First, the turkey will need to be thawed before cooking. This can take from 1 or 2 days to 4 or 5 according to the size of your bird, check the label. Then preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and place the turkey in a roasting pan. A meat thermometer is important to get the most accurate reading for when the turkey is ready to be eaten. Place the end of the meat thermometer into the middle of the turkey but make sure it is not touching bone. Bone will heat up quicker than the meat, so it will throw off your temperature reading.
The general rule of thumb is that for an unstuffed turkey, cooking time is going to be around 12-15 minutes per pound and 15-20 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey. This means that an 8-12-pound turkey will take close to 3 hours for an unstuffed, and 3.5 hours for stuffed. A 12-14 pounder will cook in 3-3.75 hours unstuffed but will take closer to 4 hours for a stuffed. A 14-18-pound unstuffed bird will take 3.75 to 4.25 hours, but a stuffed one will probably take at least 4 hours and maybe more. Some of you might be cooking monster birds that are 18 plus pounds. Maybe you have a large family, or you are just planning to eat a ton of meat! Well be a little patient and get out those stretchy pants because these birds will probably take closer to 5 hours.
Obviously, these times can vary by oven or how much the turkey is being stuffed. This is why it is important to have a meat thermometer. One mistake people make is that the turkey is done when the skin is a golden brown. To get the most accurate reading, the meat thermometer is essential to read the internal temperature of the turkey. Constantly monitoring this thermometer is important. Once this temperature reads about 165 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh, that bird is ready to be consumed!
One last thing, if your recipe calls for “brining” the bird, that will add another 12 or 24 hours to your prep time. See a theme here? It’s smart to plan ahead for Turkey time, so your guests don’t end up eating frozen pizza. But, don’t worry, you’ve got this!

We hope that this helpful information will help you enjoy a safe, Happy Thanksgiving with your friends and family!