July 15, 2024

How to Cook Thanksgiving Turkey the Safe Way

Foodsafety.gov is offering tips on how to cook Thanksgiving turkey. This bird is the centerpiece of most holiday dinners in America today. Cooking it thoroughly to a safe final internal temperature is crucial to keep you and your family safe.

Cook Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkeys, like chickens, can have Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria on their skin. They must be carefully handled and completely cooked to prevent foodborne illness.

First, never rinse the turkey. That step aerosolizes bacteria on the bird and spreads it around your kitchen. Just pat the turkey dry.

The easiest way is to put a completely thawed unstuffed turkey into a roasting pan, set the oven to 325°F, and let it cook. Test it with a food thermometer after 3 hours, which is how long an 8 to 12 pound bird should cook. The larger the turkey, the longer the cooking time. There is a chart on how long to cook all types of turkey, from a plain breast to drumsticks, at that site. The turkey should read 165°F in three places: the innermost part of the wing, the thickest part of the breast, and the innermost part of the thigh.

Take the turkey out of the oven and let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Then carve.

And remember that the color of the meat is not a reliable indicator of doneness. Pink turkey can be safe to eat if it reaches 165°F as tested with a reliable thermometer.

If you want to stuff your turkey, stuff it just before it goes into the oven. Never stuff a turkey ahead of time, even if you are going to refrigerate it because bacteria will start to grow in the stuffing. Cook the turkey as directed using the chart. Add one thermometer measurement to this bird: in the center of the stuffing. That must also reach 165°F to kill any foodborne pathogens.

The stuffing should be immediately removed from the turkey. Put into a serving bowl and keep it warm while the turkey rests.

You can also cook Thanksgiving turkey in an oven bag; this speeds up the cooking process. Follow directions on the bag you purchase, but remember to add 30 minutes to the recommended cooking time if you are stuffing the turkey. Use that thermometer again to make sure it is thoroughly cooked.

Grilling and smoking a turkey is more difficult. This method frees up your oven for other dishes. When cooking turkey on a grill, allow 15 to 18 minutes per pound. Remember that if it’s cold outside, this cooking method will take longer. If you want to smoke a turkey, a slower indirect coking method, that can take 4 to 8 hours depending on the temperature of the coals and the weather. And remember that grilled and smoked turkeys should never be stuffed.

Spatchcocking a turkey is an advanced cooking method. You must remove the spine, flip the bird over, and flatten it by breaking the breast bone. This method produces moister meat in less time and the turkey will take up less time in the oven. A spatchcocked turkey should be roasted at 450°F for 70 minutes for a 12 pound bird.

Finally, a deep fried turkey is a cooking challenge. You can cook a whole turkey in less than an hour with this method. But the large amount of oil presents a safety challenge. A turkey cooked this way must be completely thawed and patted dry, and can never be stuffed.

Follow these instructions for a delicious and safe Thanksgiving turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!


Report Your Food Poisoning Case

Error: Contact form not found.


Home About Site Map Contact Us Sponsored by Pritzker Hageman, P.A., a Minneapolis, MN law firm that helps food poisoning victims nationally.