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How to Cook a Turkey

Article by: Sydny Carter  |  Photo by: dannyboy
How to Cook a Turkey
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Whether brining, roasting, smoking or deep-frying, you'll be sure to serve a moist and tender bird.
Get tips for roasting the perfect turkey.
Turkey Tools
Besides a rack, roasting pan and thermometer, keep loads of paper towels, a turkey baster, foil tent and some trusty trussing twine on hand.

How to Roast Your Turkey
To prepare the turkey for roasting, first remove the giblets (and save for gravy or stuffing). Next, rinse the bird inside and out and pat dry with paper towels.
If you are stuffing the bird, stuff it loosely, allowing about 1 to 1.5 cups stuffing per kilo of turkey.
Brush the skin with melted butter or oil. Tie drumsticks together with string (for stuffed birds only).
Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point towards the body, and should not touch the bone.
Place the bird on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 175 degrees C (350 degrees F ) oven. Use the following chart to estimate the time required for baking.
Bake until the skin is a light golden colour, and then cover loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil tent to brown the skin. Basting is not necessary, but helps promote even browning.
The turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 75 degrees C (165 degrees F ) at the thigh.
Turkey Tip: Rack 'em Up
Turkeys cook best if hot air is allowed to circulate underneath and all around them. Setting the turkey on a roasting rack is key. The fat drips down and can be collected in the roasting pan. The rack lets the air circulate and also keeps the bird from soaking in its own fat.


Weight of Roasting Time Roasting Time
Bird (Unstuffed)(Stuffed)
4.5-8 kg 3-3.5 hours 3.75-4.5 hours
8-10 kg 3.5-4 hours 4.5-5 hours
10-11 kg 4-4.5 hours 5-5.5 hours
11-13 kg 4.5-5 hours 5.5-6.25 hours
Other Cooking Methods
Roasting a turkey is the easiest cooking method: the oven remains a constant temperature, and it's easy to baste the turkey and check the internal temperature periodically. But for the adventurous, grilling or deep-frying provides a different experience and frees up your oven for other dishes.
Ready to Eat
How to Cook a Turkey step photo 7
The only reliable test for doneness is the temperature of the meat, not the colour of the skin. The turkey is done when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 75 degrees C (165 degrees F ) at the thigh.
If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing. The stuffing should be 75 degrees C as well. When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes.
How to Carve a Turkey
If You Don't Have a Meat Thermometer
How to gauge doneness if you don't have a meat thermometer? Poke the deepest part on the inside thigh of the turkey. If the juices are running clear, from previous experience, rule is that the turkey is done.
Finishing Touches
How to Cook a Turkey step photo 9
After resting at room temperature, the juices are redistributed throughout the turkey and the meat stands up to carving better--the juices stay in the slices, rather than on your countertop.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board to rest and use the drippings in the roasting pan to make gravy. Use a sharp knife for carving and serve the meat on a warmed platter.

Making Perfect Gravy
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