Roast turkey is practically a requirement for the Thanksgiving menu, but if you like turkey leftovers almost as much as the main event, you may want to consider making it more often! Get it right every time with the turkey tips below (and brush up on food safety for leftovers while you’re at it). After that, take a look at the treasure trove of turkey how-tos and turkey recipes available here—including an article on how to brine a turkey and an entire collection of Thanksgiving videos.
Refrigerator thawing is recommended. However, if there is no time, submerge the turkey in cold water. Thawing the turkey at room temperature allows bacterial growth and is not recommended.
REFRIGERATOR THAWING: Thaw breast side up in its unopened wrapper on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow at least one day of thawing for every four pounds of turkey.
COLD WATER THAWING: Cover the bird (breast down) in cold water in its unopened wrapper. Remember to change the water every 30 minutes to keep turkey surface cold. Estimate minimum thawing time to be 30 minutes per pound.
RINSE BIRD: Make sure the turkey is properly and completely thawed. Remove neck and giblets from inside the bird (they are usually found packaged inside the breast cavity). Refrigerate for use later in gravy preparation or discard. Thoroughly wash inside and out with cold water. Pat dry.
PREPARE STUFFING: Use 1 package STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for a turkey up to 8 pounds, 2 packages for an 8 to 12 pound turkey and 3 packages for a turkey 12 to 20 pounds. Toss contents of each box stuffing with 1 2/3 cups hot water and 1/4 cup butter, cut up. Let stand 5 minutes. PREPARE STUFFING JUST BEFORE IT GOES INTO THE BIRD.
STUFFING THE BIRD: IF YOU DON'T HAVE A RELIABLE MEAT THERMOMETER, DON'T STUFF THE BIRD! Checking visually is unreliable and unsafe. Stuff the bird loosely-about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey when ready to roast. This will allow the interior of the stuffing to reach a safe 165°F temperature. Also, the stuffing should be moist, rather than dry, since heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a wet environment. Pull the neck skin over the loosely stuffed breast area, fastening it with a short skewer underneath bird. Tie the legs and tail together with clean string (purchase in housewares sections of grocery stores). For a drier, crispier stuffing, place extra stuffing in a separate covered baking dish and bake with the turkey during the last 30 minutes it is in the oven.