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How to cook your Thanksgiving turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to start feeling nervous if you’re holding down the biggest responsibility: the turkey.

This is the best possible item to be in charge of, though. It’s simple and the absolute corner of any Thanksgiving meal.

Here are some easy steps to follow:


It’s ideal to purchase your turkey one week before the big day. You will need to defrost the bird one day for every four pounds of weight. If you’ve waited too long and this is no longer an option, have no fear.

According to Butterball, you can use the “Cold Water Method.” In this method you’ll place the turkey in the sink or in a cooler submerged in cold water. Every 30 minutes flip the turkey and drain and replace the water so it’s fresh. Do this until until it’s completely thawed.


At this point, you can brine the bird with salt if you wish. For this method, make sure to get salt in all of the corners and crevasses, then place in the refrigerator, uncovered to sit for one day. This will allow the skin of the bird to turn out more crispy when cooked. At this point, you could add thyme, rosemary or garlic to butter, mash together and rub between the skin and meat of the turkey.

If you don’t have time to brine, that’s OK.

In this case, once the bird is completely defrosted, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey and set aside for gravy if you wish. Using a seasoning brush, cover the bird in the seasoning of your choice. This could be oil, butter, herbs or a combination thereof.

If you’re stuffing the bird, which requires a longer cook time due to decreased air flow, do this now. Stuff loosely in order to allow the stuffing room to expand.

Place the turkey in the preheated oven and remove once it’s two-thirds of the way finished. This will prevent it from drying out. Butterball has a weight-to-cook-time scale available on its website.

Using a meat thermometer, you’ll know it’s finished when the thigh is 180 degrees and the breast is 170 degrees. If you forget these numbers, just remember that the minimum temperature is 165 degrees, according to FoodSafety.gov.


On Thanksgiving Day, if you find yourself with a pressing question you can text Butterball’s hotline.

Butterball has been fielding phone calls from Thanksgiving cooks for three decades, but this year it’s letting people text their turkey-related questions for the first time.

Butterball started to take text message questions on Nov. 17 and will continue through Thanksgiving Day. Cooks can text questions to 844-877-3456 at any time of day, and experts -- not bots -- will be on call 24 hours. People can also still reach the company’s experts through email or social media.

Carve and enjoy!

-- Contributing: Associated Press