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Turkey Tips and How-tos

It’s the undisputed star of the Thanksgiving dinner menu, but preparing the turkey can be the easiest part of your holiday countdown checklist. Here are smart tips from our Kraft Kitchens Experts to show you how. For more inspiration, check out our turkey recipes and Thanksgiving videos. Once you get the hang of it, you may find yourself making this budget-friendly bird more often! Then you could enjoy it in turkey leftovers, including sandwiches, pitas and wraps, casseroles and layered salads.

Hosting the Thanksgiving meal? Don’t stress out - just give thanks for our turkey tips! We’ll lead you through all the important steps to get your turkey from store to table in easy-to-understand, step-by-step instructions.

What size turkey to buy

Size matters! When planning the size of the bird to purchase, make sure you take the size of your roasting pan into consideration. You don’t want to purchase a turkey that is too big for your roaster. Check out tips on how to buy a turkey.

How to thaw a turkey

If you find your turkey isn’t thawing as quickly as you would like, try this quick-thaw method: Place the turkey in the sink and keep it covered with cold water until the turkey is thawed, allowing 1 hour for each pound of turkey and changing the water occasionally. We have more tips on how to thaw a turkey.

How to season a turkey

Properly seasoning your turkey will take the flavor from bland to bright. Make sure you season both the cavity and the area under the skin with salt, pepper and herbs. Try poultry seasoning, thyme, sage or marjoram.

How to cook a turkey

For the perfectly cooked turkey, a thermometer is a must. Insert a meat thermometer deep into the thickest part of the thigh, next to the body. Make sure it does not touch the bone. If you don't have a meat thermometer that can stay in the oven, you can also check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer near the end of the estimated roasting time. Check out more tips on turkey cooking times.

How to make turkey gravy

The ultimate test is - making gravy! Smooth and flavorful gravy is only a few steps away. Watch our Perfect Gravy video and lumps will be a thing of the past!

Look like a pro when carving the Thanksgiving bird. Watch our How to Carve a Turkey video for tips and techniques on carving and plating the perfect bird, and read more about carving a turkey from our experts.

Carved turkey can tend to dry out and cool quickly, so keep some reserved hot turkey broth on hand to drizzle over the platter before serving. It will both heat and moisten the turkey.

More turkey ideas

Tired of traditional Thanksgiving flavors? Try Turkey with Ancho Adobo, Picadillo-Stuffed Turkey with Orange-Tamarind Sauce or Mole Turkey for an ethnic twist on an old favorite.

Who says you need to roast a whole turkey? Not only are Oven-Barbecued Turkey Legs for a Crowd simple and delicious, but they also require no carving! Or if you have lots of kids coming to your family dinner, try serving them alongside a whole turkey.

Turkey leftovers

And who can forget leftovers? Some people think Thanksgiving leftovers are better than the actual meal! Check out our collection of recipes for turkey leftovers that will transform your leftover turkey into another dish entirely. From The Ultimate Leftover Turkey Sandwich to Easy Turkey Pot Pie, we’ve got you covered.

turkey tips and how-tos
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