How big a turkey should you get? A good rule of thumb is to allow 1 - 1 1/2 lbs. per person. This will ensure that you have enough for dinner, and a respectable amount of leftovers!
Make sure you leave enough time to thaw your turkey if you are using frozen instead of fresh. The #1 mistake made is not allowing enough thaw time. For average thawing times, click here.
When making stuffing, allow about 1/2-3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. This will ensure that there is enough stuffing to fill the cavity of the bird.
Always use a roasting pan that is large enough and strong enough for the task. For our roasting pan guide, click here.
Never use a disposable aluminum roasting pan for large turkeys. When you remove it from the oven, it could buckle under the weight and disaster could strike!
You can also use an oven-bag to roast a turkey. The steps are the same as for roasting without a bag. Dust the inside of the bag with flour and poke some holes in the bag for air to escape, then cook as normally.
Never roast your turkey in a brown paper bag. Many bags are recycled, and are not safe for food preparation!
If your turkey is getting too brown for your taste while it cooks, try placing aluminum foil loosely over the breast and thighs. It will halt the browning process while still allowing the turkey to cook.
To remove the turkey from the roasting pan, always use a turkey lifter to lift the turkey. They support the weight of the turkey easily and lessen the likelihood of all your hard work ending up on the kitchen floor!
Never roast your turkey in an oven less than 325 degrees F. Doing so can cause harmful bacteria to form!
Only a meat thermometer can give definite results when it comes to checking if the turkey done. If you do nothing else, make sure that you have an accurate meat thermometer! Once the temperature reaches 165°- 170°F, it is safe to come out of the oven.
To measure the temperature of your turkey roast, insert the probe well into the thickest part of the thigh, along where it meets the side of the breast.
When measuring the temperature with the thermometer, make sure that the probe does not hit the bone! This will give an incorrect reading, as the bones act as heat conductors. Try to get the thermometer alongside the bone and in the meatiest part.
Once finished, remove the roast from the oven and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. You can cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil to prevent it from cooling off too quickly.
Many chefs insist on soaking their turkey in a salt-water brine the night before roasting. While this may sound a little disgusting, it does keep the turkey moist while it roasts, preventing it from drying out too quickly. If you want to give it a try and see what you think, get yourself a large stockpot or bucket, water, and plenty of sea salt. Use 1 cup of salt for every gallon of cold water and submerge the turkey until it is covered. (Make sure there is enough room in the refrigerator, as this is where it will have to go while it soaks overnight for 10-12 hours!)Remove turkey before preparing to roast and rinse under cold water to remove any excess salt. Proceed with roasting as normal.