Defrosting Done Right
Many of the birds we sell at our stores are fresh, meaning that they don’t need to be thawed. They may have a thin layer of ice from being kept extremely cold, but they aren’t frozen through. If you do choose one of our frozen birds, be sure to leave plenty of time for thawing.
- Safest way. Put a tray or pan underneath the bird in its packaging to catch drips and place it in the refrigerator for 1 full day for every 5 pounds of turkey.
- Fastest way. Short on time or fridge space, this is your best option. Make sure the turkey is sealed in a leak-proof wrapper and place it in a container large enough to completely contain it. Add cold tap water to cover. Change the water every 30 minutes and allow 30 minutes of thawing time per pound.
- Other methods. We don’t recommend em’. Thawing a turkey on the counter is unsafe and using the defrost setting on a microwave produces uneven results.
14-pound bird: 3 days in fridge, 7 hours in cold water.
20-pound bird: 4 days in fridge, 10 hours in cold water.
A generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and a brush of butter are delicious but sometimes more is well…more. Here are four easy ways to boost flavor:
- Brine. For an especially juicy turkey, soak the bird in a saltwater solution for 4 to 24 hours before roasting. Learn how.
- Inject Flavor. Blast flavorful liquids (broth, butter, olive oil, etc.) directly into the meat with a poultry injector — it looks like a really big syringe and is sold at most kitchenware stores. This technique has many of the advantages of brining, plus it works almost instantly and is less cumbersome for really big birds.
- Use Fresh Herbs. Put herbs to work three ways:
- Loosen the skin over the breast meat and thigh of the turkey with your fingers and stuff chopped herbs under the skin
- Place whole herb sprigs in the cavity
- Sprinkle chopped herbs over the exterior of the turkey
- Try a Spice Rub. Combine dried herbs and seasonings of choice and sprinkle them in the cavity and over the skin of the bird. Loosen the skin over the breast and thighs of the bird and work a little under there as well.
Stuffing: Yea or Nay?
Stuffing is a matter of preference. Your turkey will roast more evenly and quickly without the stuffing inside. If you choose to stuff, make sure you do it safely.
- Always stuff loosely; estimate 1/2 to 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. Bake extra stuffing in a casserole dish.
- Stuffing your bird increases the cooking time by about 5 to 7 minutes per pound.
- Check the temperature of the stuffing and not just the bird before serving. The stuffing must register at least 165°F before it is safe to eat.
- Never stuff the bird ahead of time. Stuff it with warm, freshly prepared stuffing just before roasting.
- Remove thawed turkey from refrigerator about 1 hour before roasting. Unwrap and remove giblets from cavity.
- Flavor and season bird. Tuck the wing tips under the back of the bird and tie the legs together.
- Place breast side up on rack in a roasting pan. Pour white wine or chicken broth into the bottom of the pan.
- Preheat oven. Most recipes call for temperatures between 325° and 375°F.
- Estimate the required roasting time. Set a timer or write down the beginning time and approximate ending time.
- Brush the bird generously with melted butter. It’s not mandatory, but it assists in browning and adds flavor.
- Baste only at the beginning of the roasting process. Basting later may make the skin soft instead of crispy.
- Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Test at the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone; when the thermometer registers 165°F, the turkey is done.
- Let bird rest for about 30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute through the meat and makes for smooth carving.
Cooking times can vary depending on a number of factors, including oven temperature and accuracy, the type of roasting pan used and how frequently you open the oven door. The type of bird you choose can also make a difference in the cooking time. If you are cooking a stuffed turkey, remember to add an additional 5 to 7 minutes per pound.
Begin to check for doneness about 30 minutes before the first suggested roasting time. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (don’t hit the bone). When it reads 165°F, take the turkey out of the oven. (Check that the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh.)
- 8-12 pounds — 2 to 3.5 hours
- 12-16 pounds — 3 to 4 hours
- 16-20 pounds — 4 to 5 hours
- 20-25 pounds — 5 to 6 hours
- 25-30 pounds — 6+ hours
Recipes to Gobble Up
- Turkey with Extra-Crispy Skin
- Ginger-Glazed Turkey with Roasted Fruits
- Golden Roasted Turkey
- Honey and Rosemary Brined Turkey
- No-Basting Roast Turkey
- Roast Turkey with Chiles and Citrus
- Roast Turkey with Sage Butter and Rapini-Rice Stuffing
- Roast Turkey with Apples and Onions
- Roast Turkey Breast with Apple Cider Gravy
- Turkey Breast with Root Vegetable Mash
- Herb-Crusted Turkey Breast with Mushroom-Leek Stuffing
- Raw turkey or its juices should never come in contact with other foods.
- Hands, knives, cutting board and counter should be washed with soap and hot water after prepping raw turkey.
- If you choose to stuff your bird, be aware that doing so could increase the risk of food-borne illness, so take all suggested precautions above.
- Leftovers should never be left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Have food storage containers handy to refrigerate the remnants of your feast quickly.