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How To Roast a Turkey – Guide from Freezer to Thanksgiving Dinner

Published by Dwight Tillou

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Everything you need to know from purchasing a frozen turkey to bringing a perfectly roasted, golden brown turkey to the Thanksgiving dinner table can be found in this quick guide.

What Size Turkey Should be Purchased?

When purchasing a turkey (fresh or frozen) allow one and half pounds per person. The weight of the turkey includes the weight on the non-edible turkey bones that have to be accounted for when deciding on the size of the turkey needed. To ensure a generous serving size of roasted turkey at Thanksgiving dinner plus some leftover turkey for the next day, one and half pounds per person will do it.

It Takes Days to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

A frozen turkey needs to be thawed in the refrigerator for safety sake. A frozen turkey requires one day per each four pounds of weight, plus an additional day, to completely thaw. Allow five days to thaw a 15 pound turkey prior to Thanksgiving Day. If a fresh turkey is used, store in the refrigerator until cooking day. Allow 30 minutes prep time prior to roasting.

Prepare the Turkey for Roasting

Remove the giblets that are inside the cavity of the turkey, set aside for use in giblet gravy or discard. If stuffing the turkey, spoon the stuffing loosely inside the body cavity of the turkey. Do not pack the stuffing inside the turkey tightly, tightly packed stuffing will not be able to reach a safe cooking temperature during the roasting time.

Skewer the turkey neck skin to the back of the bird. Tuck drumstick ends under the band of skin across the tail and twist turkey wing tips under the back of the bird. Place turkey, breast side up in a shallow roasting pan. To prevent uneven browning, press pieces of aluminum foil over the drumsticks.

Roast Turkey at 325 Degrees

Place oven rack in the lowest oven position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush outside of turkey with cooking oil or melted butter and insert a oven safe meat thermometer into the center of the thigh muscle, being careful not to touch the thigh bone with the end of the thermometer.

Place turkey in oven and allow to roast until the meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees and drumsticks move freely when wiggled. Pierce the turkey thigh opposite the meat thermometer with a long-tined fork, the juices will run clear if turkey is done.

Remove the turkey from the oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest 20 minutes before carving so the turkey juices can be re-distributed through the meat and make turkey carving easier. Transfer the stuffing into a bowl before serving, then serve a perfectly roasted turkey to Thanksgiving dinner guests.

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