It’s Turkey Time!

tips for a great bird

As strange as it seems now, it’s thought that venison, ducks, and geese were served at the first Thanksgiving. These days, though, turkey is the meat of choice. 

How can you make sure your bird is moist, delicious, and worry-free? Follow these tips:

  • You’ll need about one pound of turkey per guest. Add up how many pounds you need for your guest list—and then tack on an extra few pounds if you love leftovers!
  • If you buy a fresh (not frozen) bird, store it in the fridge on a tray that can collect any leaking juices.
  • If you buy a frozen turkey, keep it in its original packaging and thaw it in the fridge. It usually takes 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird. You can also thaw the turkey in its wrapper submerged in cold water in a clean sink, advises the Mayo Clinic. For this method, plan for a half-hour per pound, and change the water every 30 minutes.  
  • It takes about four-and-a-half hours to roast a 20-pound turkey at 325°. Use a food thermometer to check for a minimum internal temperature of 165°.
  • Brush the turkey skin with melted butter or oil before roasting. This adds flavor and helps with browning.
  • If you decide to baste, do so only up until the last hour of roast time, otherwise crisp skin can turn soft. 




“Let's Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey,” USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service,

“Turkey Roasting Instructions . . .”


Label Lingo

When shopping for a Thanksgiving turkey, you may come across some labels on the bird’s packaging. Here are a few of the terms and what they mean.

  1. Animal Welfare Approved: This seal certifies that animals were raised humanely and outdoors, with the most stringent humane animal welfare standards.
  2. Kosher: This term may be used only on meat products that have been prepared under rabbinical supervision.
  3. Natural: A label with this word on it means the product contains no artificial ingredients or added color and was minimally processed. 
  4. Organic: This label means the item was grown without pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. The animal was not given any antibiotics or growth hormones during its life.