The Ultimate Turkey Guide
It’s common to stress over your Thanksgiving Turkey. And for good reason. It IS the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal. Our hope is to crush any fears you might have about cooking a beautiful, moist, and juicy Thanksgiving Turkey.
This guide focuses on how to prepare a turkey as EASY as possible. The real key to baking a perfect Thanksgiving Turkey is not to overcook it. So, all you need to do is buy a thermometer and plan ahead to get the timing right.
Follow our simple yet effective guide to achieving a mouthwatering Thanksgiving Turkey.
We recommend planning on 1.5 pounds of turkey per person. (So, if you’re feeding 6 people, buy at least a 10-pound turkey). This will be more than enough, but you won’t have to worry about skimping your guests and you’ll have leftovers. However, if you have a lot of children at your gathering, you can cut that down to a pound a person.
If your turkey is frozen, thaw in the fridge 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. (For example: plan on 4 full days of thawing in the fridge for a 20-pound turkey). The easiest way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator on a pan to catch any liquid the turkey will drip as it defrosts in the fridge. Food safety tip: do NOT thaw at room temperature. You need to keep it cold in the refrigerator while you’re thawing because you don’t want it to spoil or to increase any bacteria.
If you buy a turkey from the store (Butterball, Norbest etc..) you don’t need to brine your turkey. Most store-bought turkeys are already brined or have a solution in them that helps to keep the turkey moist and flavorful.
The most common mistake people make when cooking their turkey is they cook it too long. The way to fix this? Cook by temperature with a meat thermometer. Your turkey is done cooking when it reaches the MAGIC temperature of 165 degrees F.
For this guide we used our Citrus Herb and Garlic Butter Seasonings, but we have a plethora of seasonings and rubs that go great on turkey. Below are some of our favorite Runnin’ Wild Dry Seasonings to use for turkey:
- Apple: sweet apple flavor that enhances/ complements the flavor of turkey
- Cajun: spicy Cajun kick of heat
- Lemon Pepper: lots of zesty lemon flavor
- Pecan: blend of brown sugar and pecan that creates a sweet and savory taste
- Poultry: combination of whole herbs, spices, and a hint of natural lemon flavor (your traditional Thanksgiving Turkey seasoning)
- Smokey Paprika: adds a deep and smokey flavor
And now for the turkey...
- 1 turkey (12-20 pound)
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 apple, quartered
- 1 orange, quartered
- Citrus Herb Seasoning
- Garlic Butter Seasoning
- Peppered Sea Salt Seasoning
- PREP. Remove the thawed turkey from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to let it come to room temperature. Adjust your oven rack so the turkey will roast in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- PREPARE. Remove turkey from packaging and take out the neck and giblets from the inside cavities (you can keep these for the gravy if you’d like). Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
- STUFF. Season the cavity of the turkey with Peppered Sea Salt Seasoning. Toss the quartered onion, lemon, apple, and orange with olive oil and 3 tablespoons of Citrus Herb Seasoning and then stuff mixture into the cavity of the turkey.
- TUCK. Tuck the wings of the turkey underneath the bird and place the turkey on a roasting pan set on a roasting rack.
- SEASON. Rub the entire turkey with olive oil. Lightly dust the entire turkey with Garlic Butter Seasoning, then generously season the entire turkey with Citrus Herb Seasoning.
- ROAST. Roast at 325 degrees F for 13-15 minutes per pound. Check turkey halfway through the cooking process, and when the skin gets golden brown, cover the top of the bird with tinfoil to protect the breast meat from overcooking.
- REMOVE. When the internal temperature (inserted on middle of thigh and breast) reaches 160 degrees F, remove turkey from the oven and set it on the counter (keep it under the foil). It will continue cooking under the foil, and let it do so until it reaches the MAGIC temperature of 165 degrees F.*
- REST AND CARVE. Take foil off the turkey and let it rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
*If you prefer to smoke your turkey, use the same process and smoke at 325 degrees F.
Don’t stress over this. Like we said earlier, the key to baking a perfect turkey is not to overcook it. So, all you need is a meat thermometer, and you can rest easy…. you’ll impress your guests with a memorable Thanksgiving Turkey.