Preparing Your Own Tasty Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is coming up which means it’s time to start thinking about turkey preparations!

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If you could pin point any food that you deem to be most closely associated with Thanksgiving, what would you choose? Well, turkey of course! Every year over 45 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving in the United States. Turkey is also the 4th most popular source of animal protein in the American diet - after chicken, beef and pork.

Serving up a turkey for Thanksgiving is a huge tradition that can also be a huge source of anxiety and concern. The whole process takes a lengthy amount of time, you have to be very careful that you are safely preparing and cooking your turkey and then you still have the rest of the food and side dishes to worry about too! This Thanksgiving take some safety tips and suggestions from us to help make your Thanksgiving turkey preparations go as smoothly and safely as possible.


There are a couple different ways to thaw a turkey. You can do it in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees of lower. For every 5 pounds of turkey you should add 24 hours of thawing time. For example, if you have a 15 pound turkey you’ll need to thaw it in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Turkey can also be thawed for less time in cold water. The water should be changed every half hour and take approximately 6 hours to thaw in cold water. A larger turkey, between 20-24 pounds, will need 12 hours to thaw in cold water.

Never thaw turkey at room temperature. The higher temperatures can be a breeding ground for bacteria.


After your bird has thawed you’ll need to remove the neck and giblet pieces and very thoroughly wash the turkey with cold water. Afterwards be sure to wash everything that came in contact with the uncooked turkey.


Between 10 to 18 pounds:

  • Unstuffed: 3 to 3 ½ hours
  • Stuffed: 3 ¾ to 4 ½ hours

Between 18 to 22 pounds:

  • Unstuffed: 3 ½ to 4 hours
  • Stuffed: 4 ½ to 5 hours

Between 22 to 24 pounds:

  • Unstuffed: 4 to 4 ½ hours
  • Stuffed: 5 to 5 ½ hours

Between 24 to 29 pounds:

  • Unstuffed: 4 ½ to 5 hours
  • Stuffed: 5 ½ to 6 ¼ hours

Wait 15-20 minutes for the turkey to cool off before you begin carving up pieces for your guests.
For more help with cooking times, portion planning and measurement conversions, check out Butterball’s Calculator & Conversions. The Turkey Talk-Line, 1-800-BUTTERBALL, is also open for any questions you may have while preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey. The hotline will be operating Monday – Friday from November 3rd – 26th 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday, November 22nd & Sunday, November 23rd from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

[Source: Nassau County Gov.]

Photo by Donald Cook via Free Images