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How to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Thanksgiving turkey

Unless you’re a vegetarian, a turkey is bound to be the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner. While that part of the holiday isn’t complicated to figure out, how to cook the bird often is. First, there’s the matter of preparation. How do you thaw the thing? Or can you pop it into the oven frozen? Does the seasoning go on the skin or under the skin—and do you put it on by hand or inject it? And basting—what is basting? And after all that—oven or deep fryer? These are the questions that plague homes across the country as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. Luckily, there’s a better resource than a Google search to help you make sure you have the perfect turkey to place on the dining table this year.

While you may know that Butterball is a brand of turkey products in the United States, you may not know that from November through Christmas Eve, they host a hotline called the Turkey Talk-Line where knowledgeable turkey experts are ready to answer any and all turkey-based questions as you prepare your bird for the big day. Stuck Thanksgiving morning wondering when to put your turkey in the oven? A simple call to the Turkey Talk-Line could have you speaking to a kind grandmother named Barb whose years of experience in the kitchen will have you on your way to Thanksgiving dinner greatness in no time. It’s really an awesome resource!

Before you call the kind folks on the other end of the helpline, it may be a good idea to prepare yourself early by taking a look at Butterball’s instructions for cooking your fresh or thawed turkey:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels.

  2. Place turkey breast side up on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2½ inches deep.

  3. Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. (Tucking the wings will help stabilize the turkey in the pan and when carving)   Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.

  4. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh without touching the bone. When the thigh is up to temperature, and if the turkey is stuffed, move the thermometer to the center of the stuffing.

  5. Place your turkey in the oven.

  6. When the turkey is about ⅔ done, loosely cover the breast with a piece of foil to prevent overcooking.

  7. Your turkey is done when the temperature with a meat thermometer is 180° F in thigh and 170° F in breast or stuffing.

  8. Lift turkey onto platter, and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Simple enough, right? For more instructions for other turkey scenarios, check out their website here.  And of course, as with any time you’re using your oven, you and your loved ones will definitely be safer if you have a FireAvert installed in case of any cooking fires that may occur while you’re preparing for all your big dinners and making all your favorite treats this holiday season. Click here to get more information about ordering a FireAvert today!

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