Never cooked a whole turkey before? Don’t fret — follow these 11 easy tips for a perfectly cooked Thanksgiving bird!


1. Pick Your Bird
Finding the right bird is the first step. There is no correct answer on what type of turkey is best. You can choose fresh or frozen.

2. Size It Up
Once you know what type of turkey you want, consider the size. Estimate 1 to 1 and a half pounds of turkey per person and then add a few pounds for bones. Make sure the turkey you buy looks healthy with lots of meat on the bone. You will also want to make sure that your turkey fits in your oven and roasting pan.

3. Thaw It
Don’t try to cook your turkey from frozen! You must leave time before Thanksgiving to thaw your turkey in the fridge. You will need hours to thaw your turkey all of the way through. Allow for five hours per pound to thaw in the fridge.

4. Brine
Many people recommend brining your bird in a mixture of water, salt, and spices for optimal flavouring. Like brining any other meat, brine is there to add flavour and keep your turkey juicy and moist right until you eat it. You will need to find just the right recipe for your bird to infuse flavour.

5. Remove The Bits
While it may seem obvious, don’t forget to remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey. You don’t want to leave those in when it gets popped in the oven.

6. Rub Down
On Thanksgiving morning, rub the whole turkey, inside, outside and under the skin with salt and pepper. You can also rub melted butter or oil on the outside of the skin if you want it to get extra crispy. Add more moisture and flavour to your bird by adding melted butter or oil on the breast in between the meat and the skin. Don’t remove the skin, but slide your hand between the skin and meat.

7. Feeling Spicy
While you are rubbing down your turkey, you can also add fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme under the skin.

Try: Pioneer-Style Herb Roasted Turkey

8. Don’t Stuff It
If you are a turkey novice, don’t stuff your turkey. Stuffing a turkey will change the cooking time and can dry out meat if done wrong. If you are new to the process, it’s better to make your stuffing in a separate dish.

Try: Tyler Florence’s Onion and Cornbread Stuffing

9. Roast It
There are a number of ways to cook turkey, but roasting is the best option for a novice. Cover it or tent it with foil. Make sure the shiny side of the foil faces inward. Roast your turkey at 325°F (162°C) for 20 minutes per pound. Remove the tent for the last hour.

10. Get a Meat Thermometer
It’s the easiest way to ensure a perfectly cooked bird. You don’t want to cut into your beautiful turkey to find it raw. Check that the turkey is 170 to 180°F in the thickest part of the thigh before serving.

11. Leave It
Like all other good meat, you have to let the turkey rest in foil for at least 20 minutes before.