Top Turkey Tips

Last month, there was a viral Internet challenge that had kids asking parents, “How long do you need to microwave a 25-pound turkey?”

While this prank was humorous, it surprised us how many parents were actually horrified and worried about their children’s health – did they really think this was an actual question?

We decided to assemble some tips for our readers this year. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful, whether you’re looking for new ideas or roasting a turkey for the very first time. (Trust us, it’s not as intimidating as it seems!)

  1. Choose the right turkey. Whether you go fresh, frozen or organic, you need to decide what’s important to you and how much to buy. Figure on around 1.5 pounds of turkey per person.
  2. Frozen? Defrost in the fridge. Place the turkey breast side up in its original wrapper onto a rimmed baking sheet. Plan ahead and allow a full day for every 4 pounds of turkey being thawed.
  3. Clean the turkey. Remove the giblets and save them for the gravy. Rinse the turkey under cool running water, and dry it inside and out with paper towels.
  4. Brine to make the turkey moist. Find a brine recipe to help keep your turkey moist and flavourful. It’ll likely include water, sugar, spices and aromatics.
  5. Choose the right roasting pan. Go for a heavier pan that won’t buckle under the turkey’s weight. A dark pan will also absorb the heat of the oven and make richer drippings for your gravy.
  6. Stuffing on the side. Cooking the stuffing inside the turkey can breed harmful bacteria. A stuffed turkey also takes longer to cook, which can dry out your white meat.
  7. Rub your turkey with butter or oil to keep the turkey moist.
  8. Invest in a good meat thermometer so you can check the turkey for doneness. The turkey is cooked at 165 degrees.
  9. Let it rest. Gently cover your turkey in foil and let it rest for 20-30 minutes before you carve it. This will help lock in the juices.

Here are some additional tips from one of our Educators, Jaryd:

  1. Put aromatic veggies and herbs under the turkey when you cook, like a rack. You can include things like carrots, onions, celery, thyme, sage and garlic. This helps it cook more evenly, and the veggies and herbs combined with the turkey drippings make the best gravy!
  2. Put the breast side facing down to keep the white meat juicier.
  3. Baste the turkey to make sure all of the dripping flavour is spread all over the bird. But remember that you will slow down cooking time from opening the oven door.
  4. Pro tip: Roast off the giblets, neck and/or innards and use them in your gravy – this adds a ton of flavour!