Farm To Fork

How To Cook Turkey

by Marie Williams on May 11, 2023

How To Cook Turkey

Cooking a turkey is a traditional and rewarding process, especially for holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Here's a basic guide to cooking a turkey:

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • Whole turkey (thawed, if frozen)
  • Salt and pepper (or other preferred seasoning)
  • Butter or oil for basting
  • Optional: herbs, garlic, citrus for additional flavor
  • Roasting pan with rack
  • Meat thermometer
  • Aluminum foil


  1. Thawing the Turkey (if frozen):

    • Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. It typically takes about 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.
  2. Preparation:

    • Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C).
    • Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity. These are often found in a bag inside the cavity. Save them for making gravy or discard.
    • Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.
    • Season the turkey generously with salt and pepper, both inside the cavity and on the skin. You can also use a mixture of herbs, garlic, and citrus for added flavor.
    • Optionally, rub softened butter or oil over the skin of the turkey to help it brown and keep it moist during cooking.
  3. Stuffing (optional):

    • If you choose to stuff the turkey, do so just before cooking. Be sure to use a stuffing recipe that's safe for cooking inside a turkey, and stuff it loosely. The stuffing will expand as it cooks.
  4. Trussing (optional):

    • Trussing the turkey (tying the legs together with kitchen twine) can help it cook more evenly. It's optional but can be helpful.
  5. Roasting:

    • Place the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan.
    • Cover the breast of the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent it from overcooking while the rest of the turkey cooks.
    • Place the turkey in the preheated oven.
    • Roast the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding contact with the bone. This typically takes around 15 minutes per pound (about 3 hours for a 12-pound turkey).
    • Remember to baste the turkey every 30 minutes or so with the pan juices or melted butter to keep it moist.
  6. Resting:

    • Once the turkey reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the oven and tent it loosely with aluminum foil.
    • Let the turkey rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring a juicier bird.
  7. Carving:

    • Carve the turkey into slices and serve with your favorite side dishes.

Safety Tips:

  • Always wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces thoroughly after handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • Avoid stuffing the turkey ahead of time, as this can promote bacterial growth. If you're using stuffing, stuff the turkey just before cooking and make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) as well.

Enjoy your deliciously roasted turkey!


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