turkey on farm at sunset

How To Cook A Turkey

How to Cook a Turkey - The Process - Step by Step

This site explains how to cook a turkey. You will not just find recipes here; you will come to understand the process.

There is a lot of information but if you are ready to cook your turkey soon or now, we want you to be able to find answers quickly. So, we will walk you through the steps and give you links to help guide you through the process.

Don't overlook the other information on the site. There are gems throughout that readers have discovered, reporting that they make all the difference for their celebratory turkey. One reader reported winning a turkey cooking taste test against more experienced cooks using techniques they learned here. Many others have reported receiving accolades from friends and family for the best turkey ever.

Cooking a great turkey is not nearly as hard as you might think. Your results will improve when you know more about the process, and we will share everything that you need to know.

Freezing inhibits the growth of micro-organisms. It does not kill the molds, yeasts, and bacteria already present, so freezing food that is already unsafe does not make it safe.  Freezing does, however, put the bugs that might cause food to spoil or to cause illness into a state of suspended animation. The organisms don’t multiply, and the food does not spoil as long as it is kept frozen at or below 0 F.

Why Are Turkeys Frozen and Why Defrosting On a Counter Is Unsafe

Freezing a turkey actually freezes the water in the meat and halts biological processes that would continue at warmer temperatures.

Freezing inhibits the growth of micro-organisms. It does not kill the molds, yeasts, and bacteria already present, so freezing food that is already unsafe does not make it safe.  Freezing does, however, put the bugs that might cause food to spoil or to cause illness into a state of suspended animation. The organisms don’t multiply, and the food does not spoil as long as it is kept frozen at or below 0 F.

Why Are Turkeys Defrosted

Turkeys are usually defrosted before they are cooked to allow giblets to be easily removed, to allow flavors and other preparations such as stuffing and seasoning to be completed, and to reduce the cooking time.

A turkey is usually sold "ready to cook." No butchering and little if any feather removal is necessary. But because the standard is to deliver at least a "chilled," if not a "frozen" product, you may want to follow the traditional procedure of defrosting.

<div>
<div class="half-width-box-left"> Why Are Turkeys Frozen and Why Defrosting On a Counter Is Unsafe</h3>
<p>Freezing a turkey actually freezes the water in the meat and halts biological processes that would continue at warmer temperatures.</p>
<p> Freezing inhibits the growth of micro-organisms. It does not kill the molds, yeasts, and bacteria already present, so freezing food that is already unsafe does not make it safe.&nbsp; Freezing does, however, put the bugs that might cause food to spoil or to cause illness into a state of suspended animation. The organisms don&rsquo;t multiply, and the food does not spoil as long as it is kept frozen at or below 0 F.<h3>Why Are Turkeys Defrosted</h3>
<p>Turkeys are usually defrosted before they are cooked to allow giblets to be easily removed, to allow flavors and other preparations such as stuffing and seasoning to be completed, and to reduce the cooking time. </p>
<p>A turkey is usually sold "ready to cook." No butchering and little if any feather removal is necessary. But because the standard is to deliver at least a "chilled," if not a "frozen" product, you may want to follow the traditional procedure of defrosting. </div>
<p>Once the thawing begins the organisms wake up and can again begin to grow. This is the reason that you should not defrost food on a kitchen counter. The outside of the turkey can warm to an unsafe temperature long before the interior of the meat begins to thaw.
</p></div>

Once the thawing begins the organisms wake up and can again begin to grow. This is the reason that you should not defrost food on a kitchen counter. The outside of the turkey can warm to an unsafe temperature long before the interior of the meat begins to thaw.

Why Are Turkeys Defrosted

Turkeys are usually defrosted before they are cooked to allow giblets to be easily removed, to allow flavors and other preparations such as stuffing and seasoning to be completed, and to reduce the cooking time.

A turkey is usually sold "ready to cook." No butchering and little if any feather removal is necessary. But because the standard is to deliver at least a "chilled," if not a "frozen" product, you may want to follow the traditional procedure of defrosting.


Okay, here is your map through the basic steps of how to cook a turkey along with the links that explain - in depth - how to complete these steps.

USE A THERMOMETER

Our number one tip is to use a thermometer. You want the turkey cooked enough so that it is safe, but you don't want it cooked so long that it becomes dry.

The most common complaint by people who don't like turkey is that it is too dry. But, good turkey isn't dry. People who complain about dry turkey are eating overcooked turkey. Invest in an instant read thermometer so that you don't overcook your turkey, or undercook it either. For more about cooking temperatures click here.

 

instant read thermometer

SELECT THE RIGHT BIRD

There are many options to choose from when selecting your turkey. Fresh, frozen, organic, natural, enhanced, pastured, there are many factors to consider when selecting your turkey. If you do not already have your turkey check selecting the turkey to better understand your options.

 

Select your turkey


 

THAW

If you selected a frozen turkey you will need to defrost it. This can take days in the refrigerator, but if you didn't leave yourself enough time we give you tips on how to defrost it more quickly or how to cook it from a frozen state in our thawing and defrosting section.

thaw turkey

CONSIDER BRINING

After you have thawed your bird, you want to make it as tasty as possible. If your turkey is not already pre-salted, one of the most worthwhile steps that you can take is to brine or to pre-season the turkey. If you have time and space, a wet brine works well. If you want to conserve space and want less of a mess, a dry brine also works very well.

 

brine

COOKING METHOD

Your next decision for how to cook a turkey is selecting the method. Even if you know that you are going to cook it in the oven you need to decide what temperature you will use. Are you going to cook it at a low temperature (325 F 163 C) which can create less smoke, or do you want to save time and use the high heat method? Or, are you going to move your turkey cooking outdoors and have a turkey bar-b-q or have a deep fried turkey?

 

Cooking Fire

COOKING TIME

You will probably want an idea of how long it will take to make your turkey. Again, we strongly suggest that you use a thermometer to determine when your turkey is done, but if you need an idea of about how long to cook your turkey refer to our cooking timetables in Fahrenheit or to our cooking timetables in Celsius.

 

Timing

THIS IS WHERE YOU USE YOUR THERMOMETER

 

CARVING

After the above steps, you will have a beautiful bird, perfectly cooked and properly rested, ready for carving. This is where you find information on carving the turkey.

 

carve

WINE PAIRING

If you need information about the best wine to serve with your turkey dinner, check out wines that go.

 

wine corks

RECIPES FOR LEFTOVERS

If you have turkey left over (how lucky are you), you can find recipes to enjoy them here. And, more recipes can be found here.

 

recipe card

SECRET INGREDIENT

Of course you will want to get our turkey secrets including the secret ingredient.

 

secret

You now have the tools to create and introduce your guests to really good turkey. Let them know that turkey can be wonderful and that it isn't difficult at all to go well beyond a typical dry and stringy turkey that too many people have settled for.

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Copyright © 2009 - 2015 The Perfect Turkey
Copyright © 2009 - 2015 The Perfect Turkey
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