How to Cook the Perfect Turkey

How to cook the perfect turkey? Tips for safely handling your bird.

cooking the perfect turkey

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

The holidays are finally upon us and that means delicious food and quality time spent with loved ones. However, as it is with any major food-centric holiday, kitchen mishaps can happen when we least expect (or want!). 

While slightly too garlicky mashed potatoes may not be the end of the world, an undercooked turkey can certainly put a damper on your holiday gathering. That’s because undercooked turkey can carry common foodborne pathogens like salmonella and norovirus that can make guests sick. 

To ensure you have a turkey disaster-free Thanksgiving, here are a few tips to follow as you cook your bird. 

Store your turkey properly

Keep your raw turkey in the freezer until you’re ready to thaw it and ensure the freezer temperature is at or below 0 degrees. 

Thaw your cooking safely

There are a few ways you can do this but the two best ways are thawing in the refrigerator or in cold water. If you choose the refrigerator route, allow about 24 hours of thawing for each 4-5 pound turkey. For cold water thawing, ensure your turkey is in a leak-free bag and completely cover your turkey with cold water. Replace the water every 30 minutes and allow about 30 minutes of thaw time per pound of turkey.

cooking the perfect turkey

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Be mindful of your cutting boards

Use one cutting board for handling your raw turkey and a separate cooking board for other foods that won’t be cooked. 

Do not rinse your raw turkey in the sink

According to the CDC, washing raw turkey can spread germs to other foods. Poultry juice can make it onto utensils, countertops, and other foods without you knowing, which poses a risk of spreading foodborne pathogens.  

To make cooking and thawing your turkey even easier, Instacart created this helpful turkey cooking time calculator. It takes into account the weight of your cooking and your preferred level of done-ness so you can focus on what truly matters — making memories with your flock. 

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