The Best Turkey Tips Before You Cook

The Best Turkey Tips Before You Cook

Before you start your Thanksgiving or Holiday Turkey, learn these four essential ButterBall Turkey Tips:  Refrigerator and Water Thawing, Open Roasting Cooking Method, Meat Thermometer placement, and Food Safety review. Important pre-thanksgiving advice from Dad Cooking Blogger, CookLikeADad

Turkey Season is here!

The holiday season has arrived and it is time to brush up on your essential Turkey Tips before you start your cooking.  I use Butterball Turkeys in all of my turkey recipes. I have been cooking ButterBall Turkeys for many years and it is a brand that I trust with consistent flavor and quality. I have taken the time to review and address the most common questions asked about Turkey. And here they are…


Turkey Tip #1: The Urban Legend

Too many times I read emails from my viewers who get freaked out with making a holiday Turkey. I guess when you think about it, there is a lot of pressure on folks who are cooking their first turkey for the holidays.  The Turkey is a large meal to prepare and if you take in account the size of the turkey; it seems to follow the amount of anxiety that a first-timer feels when roasting a turkey for the first time.

I say, “RELAX” and this is why…

There is no perfect way to make a Turkey, so you need to keep it simple and just enjoy the experience all together.  If you follow an easy recipe like the ones I feature on CookLikeADad, your Turkey is going to come out just right, every time. And even if you don’t think you made the perfect Turkey, just remember this: The joy is in the cooking experience with family and friends to be together. Nobody is going to freak out if your turkey is dry or under-cooked; there is a solution for everything so don’t fret over the recipe, just enjoy the experience!


Turkey Tip #2:  Thawing

There are two methods on how to defrost a frozen Turkey. There is the Refrigerator Method and the Water Method. Depending on your time frame, both work just as well and it is important to note that you must keep the turkey in its original packaging. Do not take the Turkey out of the packaging to thaw because you risk food safety. Here are the following guidelines for both methods:

Refrigerator Thawing: Allow 1 Day for every 4 pounds of Frozen Turkey to thaw.

Example: 12 pound Turkey = 3 Days in the Refrigerator to thaw.

Quick note: When using the Refrigerator method, I always recommend to get the thawing process started sooner, rather than later. Why? Because even if you get your Turkey defrosted, you still can have your turkey sit in its original packaging up to 6 days in a refrigerator with no harm. (Refrigerator must be at 40 Degrees F* minimum)


Water Thaw: Allow 30 minutes in COOL Water for every 1-pound of Frozen Turkey.

Example: 12 Pound Turkey = 6 Hours in COOL water.

Note on water thawing: you can use a cooler or bathtub to place your frozen turkey to thaw. Make sure you circulate the water every 30- 45 minutes because the frozen Turkey acts like one giant “ice cube” and will cool your water, which delays your thawing process. Another important reminder is to NEVER thaw your turkey in hot water. This process will defrost the meat unevenly and can cause many other possible food safety issues. Just stick to cool water and circulate frequently and you will have your Turkey ready by using the cool water.


Turkey Tip #3: Meat Thermometers

Even though you are going to follow a turkey recipe, it is important to know when your turkey is completely cooked. Most recipes encourage the cook to have one meat thermometer on hand; but I recommend two, and this is WHERE to place them:


Roasting a Turkey with Stuffing: I like to place my first Meat Thermometer in the center of the stuffing, which is in the cavity of the Turkey. I like to cook my stuffing inside the turkey because I believe that the stuffing collects just the right amount of moisture and seasoning that you can’t get anywhere else. You need to have your stuffing temperature reach165 degrees F* in order to have a cooked Turkey.

In the Thigh: The deepest section of the turkey is the thigh and it is important to have the turkey thoroughly cooked. It may take you a couple attempts to hit the thigh, and make sure you are not resting the thermometer on the bone because that will give you an inaccurate read.  You need to get a thigh temperature of 180 Degrees F* in order to have a cooked Turkey

Watch my video on “How To Cook A Turkey” for more information on thigh placement and other recipe tips.


Turkey Tip #4 : Oven Roasting Method

There are many ways to cook a Turkey; Open and Closed Roasting, Fried, BBQ, Bagged, Steamed, Microwaved, etc… I have tried them all and they are all great. However, my cooking and entire message to my cooks is to enjoy the experience of cooking and look for quick and simple methods that are going to make you feel more comfortable and confident with your cooking.

That is why my preferred method of cooking a Turkey is using the Open Roasting Method. It’s easy and fool proof as long as you have the proper equipment:


Roasting Pan: The pan should at least have 2- 3-inch sides all-around. There are many available in stores and they even offer the temporary, aluminum versions at the grocery stores, ( I strongly recommend the more study metal versions rather than the aluminum versions due to size, strength and durability).

Roasting Rack: There are many versions of the roasting rack, so just make sure that the rack fits inside your pan and sits above the floor of your roasting pan. You need about 1- inch or more of clearance for the Turkey drippings to gather. You never want your turkey to sit at the bottom of the roasting pan without a rack. The roasting rack is designed to keep your turkey just above the floor of the pan. For more information on the rack, watch my ButterBall Turkey Tips Video Link


Turkey Tip #5: Timing is Everything

Everybody wants to enjoy a great holiday turkey and it is important to be reminded of food safety. When your turkey recipe is finished and you have completed the recipe, now is the time to pay attention to the clock and the proper steps towards food safety.

Resting and Carving: Allow the Turkey to sit outside of the oven for 30-minutes. This cooling off time allows the juices to soak back into the meat before serving. The next step after resting is carving. There are many techniques to use and I cover my version in my “How To Carve a Turkey” video, Click here.

2- Hour Rule:  After your Turkey has been removed from the Oven, you should be able to rest, carve, serve and enjoy your Turkey within a 2-hour period of time. At the 2-hour mark, it is important to make sure that all Turkey has been carved and removed from the bone and placed in a sealed container and into the refrigerator or freezer. The 2-hour rule is my rule of thumb and it assures me of food safety.

Got a Turkey Question? Ask CookLikeADad

If you have a Turkey or any other Holiday Recipe question or idea, please send me an email to:  I will respond to all questions and requests in a timely manner. Thank you!


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