By Jessica Sawyer
The turkey is arguably the most important part of any holiday dinner, so if you’re cooking it this year the pressure’s on to get it right!
Fortunately, whether you’re a novice or experienced turkey-maker, it doesn’t have to be difficult to get a juicy, tender turkey every single time – if you know what you’re doing, of course.
Want to up your turkey game? Just follow our tips below!
1. Thaw Your Turkey Properly
In order to avoid this issue, you could always buy your turkey fresh, but its typically easier and more convenient to buy it frozen.
Simply put, a turkey that hasn’t been completely thawed out just will not cook evenly, and the frozen areas may not cook to a safe temperature at all.
In order to thaw your turkey out the right way, put it in the fridge and allow 24 hours for every 4 pounds of your turkey. For example, if your turkey is 12 pounds, make sure to move it from the freezer to the fridge about 3 days in advance.
2. Brine Your Turkey
To brine your turkey, put it in a large pot or brining bag and soak it in salt water in the fridge for anywhere from 12-24 hours. Brining allows the turkey to absorb both the water and the salt, making it moist and seasoned on the inside and outside.
Consider adding some apple juice, orange peels, cloves, or brown sugar to your brine for extra flavor.
3. Rub Butter Under the Turkey’s Skin
The butter will add moisture and baste the turkey with that delicious buttery flavor as it melts under the skin. Try adding some herbs and spices to the butter for extra flavor.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Turkey’s Cooking Temperature
On average, a turkey will take about 15 minutes per pound when cooking at 325 degrees, but it is entirely possible that your turkey will take significantly more or less time.
This is why a meat thermometer is absolutely essential when cooking a turkey, as it is the only way to truly know when it is done. You don’t want to take any chances and overcook the meat, as it will become dry and tough.
Keep checking the temperature of your turkey until it reaches about 170 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh for best results.
5. Let Your Turkey Rest
Though it’s tempting to cut into it immediately after smelling it cooking all day, it is best to give your turkey about 20 – 30 minutes to rest after it comes out of the oven.
This is recommended for 2 reasons: to let the meat firm up, making it easier to carve, and to allow the juice time to redistribute itself more evenly in the meat.
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