Turkey Tips: What You Need to Know to Prepare the Perfect Holiday Bird

Blended Family preparing thanksgiving dinner together

Preparing a flavorful, crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving centerpiece is a big deal. It can be a long process from start to finish, and we want to ensure you impress your guests with a tender and moist turkey they will crave every time the holiday comes around. We’ve outlined some of the most essential tips and tricks that will have you feeling prepared when it comes time to tackle your Thanksgiving turkey!

Continue reading or visit our YouTube channel to see these tips in action!

Turkey Tip #1: Brining keeps the turkey moist.

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Brining adds moisture and flavor to the bird, allowing the natural juices to come to the surface. Try different flavor profiles such as a citrus brine, brown sugar-maple brine, or beer brine. Watch our Turkey Tips video for more flavor combinations! After pouring the brine over the turkey, refrigerate and plan to brine 1 hour for every pound of turkey. Be sure to rinse the turkey thoroughly before roasting.

 

Turkey Tip #2: Keep the stuffing on the side.

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While many prefer to cook the stuffing inside the turkey, some people may be concerned about a possible health hazard. If both the turkey and the stuffing don’t reach 165°F, bacteria from the eggs in the stuffing or from the interior of the turkey can thrive causing illness. Cooking the turkey longer may seem like an easy solution, but creates the risk of overcooking the meat. One trick is to prepare your stuffing in a separate casserole dish, then drizzle it with stock to create a similar flavor as if it were cooked inside the turkey.

Turkey Tip #3: Skip basting, brush turkey with butter or oil.

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Brushing the turkey with butter or oil prior to roasting allows for a crispier bird than basting. When basting the turkey, oven heat is lost from frequently opening the door, taking longer for the meat to reach the proper temperature.

Turkey Tip #4: Plan for 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of turkey per person.

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One to one and a half pounds of turkey per person is the standard rule, but be sure to consider a larger turkey if you’re expecting to have leftovers!

Turkey Tip #5: Keep it simple, season with salt and pepper.

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With a variety of flavors in your stuffing, gravy, vegetables, and other sides, it’s refreshing to showcase the taste of your turkey by keeping the seasonings straightforward.

Turkey Tip #6: Tie turkey to promote even cooking while retaining natural juices.

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Tying the holiday bird helps ensure the wings and legs don’t burn while cooking the bird evenly. It also helps to hold its shape and allows for easier carving.

Turkey Tip #7: Create a roasting rack out of vegetables.

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A rack is used to elevate the turkey off the bottom of the roasting pan, away from the drippings, allowing the oven heat to circulate the turkey for even cooking. If you don’t have a rack, try improvising with vegetables. Use celery, onion, carrots, and other veggies to create a “rack” below the turkey. This will not only provide the turkey with a base to cook on, but it will also give the veggies added flavor everyone will love!

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