Turkey 101

Mastering the turkey basics can be tricky. Even experienced cooks get nervous when it's time to prepare Thanksgiving's main entree. Let us relieve the pressure with our turkey recipes and information on cooking a turkey that makes Thanksgiving dinner a success.

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  • 1 of 15

    What Size to Buy

    When choosing the size of turkey for your Thanksgiving gathering:

    • allow 1 pound per adult for turkeys under 12 pounds.
    • allow 3/4 pound per adult for turkeys over 12 pounds.
    • allow 1/2 pound per adult if using a boneless turkey breast.

    If you want leftovers for more turkey recipes, buy a turkey 2-4 pounds larger than you need and make one of these delicious dishes.

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    How to Brine a Turkey

    Brining involves submerging your turkey overnight in a mixture of salt, water, and often added spices. The result is tender, flavorful meat with every bite.

    Get our step-by-step directions for how to brine a turkey.

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    How to Season a Turkey with Herbs

    Here's a sneaky trick for how to season a turkey using herbs: After you've rinsed and dried the turkey, gently loosen the skin over the breast. Slide sage leaves between the skin and meat. Tuck additional sage leaves and onion wedges into the neck and body cavity to add big flavor to the drippings.

  • thermometer, turkey, Thanksgiving 4 of 15

    How to Roast a Turkey

    Learn everything you need to know about how to roast a turkey, from thawing to trussing. We've included a step-by-step photos to make roasting a turkey easy! 

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    Timing Guidelines for Stuffed Turkeys

    Do you know how long to cook a turkey? Or what tempature to cook a turkey at. It all depends on the size of your bird. We recommend roasting in a 325-degree-F oven using these cooking times for stuffed turkeys:

    • for an 8- to 12-pound turkey, roast 3 to 3-3/4 hours.
    • for a 12- to 14-pound turkey, roast 3-1/4 to 4-1/2 hours.
    • for a 14- to 18-pound turkey, roast 4 to 5 hours.
    • for an 18- to 20-pound turkey, roast 4-1/2 to 5-1/4 hours.
    • for a 20- to 24-pound turkey, roast 4-3/4 to 5-3/4 hours.

    Note: For unstuffed turkeys of the same weight, reduce total cooking time by 15 to 45 minutes.

  • cutting turkey, carving turkey, turkey 6 of 15

    How to Carve a Turkey

    After you've successfully roasted the turkey, it's time to carve it and serve! Start by removing the drumsticks before moving on to breasts, wings, etc. 

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    Honey Roast Turkey

    Here's one of our favorite turkey recipes to try: Add big flavor to the starring dish on your Thanksgiving table with silky-sweet honey and abundant fresh herbs. Serve your delicious turkey with tangy-sweet Apple Cider Sauce instead of traditional gravy for an updated twist.

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    Apple Brandy and Sage Glazed Turkey

    A simple and sweet herbed glaze adds delicious fruit and brandy flavors to your Thanksgiving turkey. Use an apple variety such as Jonathan or Granny Smith for unbeatable tangy-sweet flavor.

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    Roast Turkey with Sweet Onion Jam

    A jam of tart apple, sweet onion, and roasted garlic flavors a traditional roast turkey. Brushing on the jam during roasting forms a delicious crust for a tasty contrast to the juicy turkey.

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    Stuffing Secrets

    An essential part of how to prepare a turkey is the stuffing, of course! Stuffings require three elements:

    1.    Starch: bread, rice, or potatoes

    2.    Liquid: broth, wine, or liquor

    3.    Additions: herbs, fruits, meats, seafood, and/or veggies

    Create your own:

    You'll have to do a little math: Each pound of uncooked turkey requires 3/4 cup stuffing. And for every 1 cup starch, add about 2 tablespoons liquid.

    Safe stuffing:

    Always mix stuffing ingredients just before stuffing and roasting the bird—do not stuff in advance.

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    How to Make Bread Cubes for Stuffing

    Making bread cubes to use in stuffing really is as easy as 1-2-3:

    1.    Use a serrated knife to cut bread into cubes about ½ inch wide.

    2.    Spread cubes in one layer on a baking pan.

    3.    Bake 10-15 minutes at 300 degrees F. Stir occasionally to ensure that they're evenly browned.

    Watch the process for how to make bread cubes.

  • 12 of 15

    Chorizo Corn Bread Stuffing

    Festive cranberries make a welcome appearance in this Southern-inspired stuffing recipe. Cook each serving in its own casserole dish for a holiday-worthy presentation.

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    Oysters Rockefeller Sourdough Stuffing

    The flavors of the classic New Orleans dish make this stuffing rich and decadent, but with a healthy dose of spinach for good measure.

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    Challah Stuffing with Fennel and Dried Fruit

    Buttery challah, fresh fennel, sweet dried fruit, and crunchy walnuts are perfectly balanced in this stuffing reminiscent of bread pudding.

  • Next Slideshow Great Green Bean Recipes

    Great Green Bean Recipes

    Whether you're scooping up a side of green bean casserole or munching on a crisp green bean salad, green beans add classic flavor, color, and nutrients to your meal. Change up your usual green bean routine with some of our fresh green bean recipes -- you won't be disappointed!
    Begin Slideshow »

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