Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are typically incomplete without the star recipe of the feast: a whole turkey. If you’re someone that always looks forward to digging into the turkey at the holiday feast, then it should interest you to find out what goes into making a whole turkey that makes it so delicious.
This article discusses the ideal procedure that will guarantee the best results with your whole turkey recipes. Also, watch out for our tips, recommendations, and suggestions, as these will make sure you achieve unrivaled results that will leave your guests craving more.
Turkey Nutrition Facts
Tips for Cooking an 8Lb Turkey
The following tips outlined below will help you achieve desirable results with your whole turkey recipes, so we recommend that you pay close attention:
Preparing a fresh or frozen turkey – Regardless of whether your turkey is fresh or frozen, you must prepare it before putting it in the oven. If your turkey is fresh, remove the wrapping the night before, remove the giblets from the cavity, rinse and pat dry (that is, if your turkey hasn’t already been brined), and place it in the refrigerator, uncovered. This allows the skin to dry out and crisp up nicely in the oven.
If you have a frozen turkey, start prepping it a few days ahead of Thanksgiving—one day for every four pounds of meat is required. A 12-pound turkey will take three days to defrost in the refrigerator, while a 20-pound turkey will take five days. Thaw the turkey and proceed as suggested for a fresh turkey to ensure crispy skin.
Cooking a stuffed vs. an unstuffed turkey – Cooking a large turkey takes roughly 20 minutes per pound on average. However, these cooking durations differ depending on whether you start with a stuffed or an unstuffed turkey. A stuffed turkey can take up to 30 minutes longer to cook than one that isn’t.
You should also check the temperature of the dressing, in addition to the temperature of the turkey. The center of the stuffing within the bird (or in a separate baking dish) must achieve 165 degrees Fahrenheit for food safety. Place the meat thermometer in the thickest portion of the thigh for an unstuffed turkey, making sure it does not come into contact with any bones. Roast the turkey until it registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer.
Choose the right roasting pan – Make sure you have the correct size of roasting pan (one with a sturdy structure to support the weight of the chicken) and a roasting rack (except you want your turkey to sit on a bed of vegetables). You’ll also need an instant-read thermometer; it’s not advisable to depend on the pop-up timers.
Seasoning your turkey – Decide in time how you’ll prefer to season your turkey. Whether you decide to apply herb butter under and on the turkey’s skin, stuff the cavity with aromatics, or apply a savory rub all over the turkey, you’ll need to assemble all of the ingredients and make them available before the turkey goes into the oven.
Cook your stuffing outside the turkey – It’s always better to prepare your stuffing outside the turkey due to the unpredictable nature of the cooking times. If, however, you decide to cook the turkey with the stuffing in, check the temperature of the dressing before serving, and you could also microwave it to make sure it’s the appropriate temperature. Bacteria tend to thrive in damp, low-temperature environments, such as the interior area of a turkey, and no one wants these in their dinner.
Using a meat thermometer – It is always advisable to make use of a meat thermometer in order to check for the turkey’s doneness. This does not include the turkey’s pop-up timer, as this does not guarantee accurate results.
You can check the cooking progress with an instant-read thermometer, which you poke into the turkey (in the thickest portion of the turkey’s thigh) occasionally and then remove. You could also use an ovenproof thermometer to insert the turkey before it goes into the oven and leaves it there while it cooks.
View this post on Instagram
Cooking time for an 8Lb Turkey
Generally, the time taken to cook a whole turkey depends on its size and whether or not you decide to stuff the turkey. The following timing guidelines can be used when cooking whole turkey recipes:
|Weight of turkey||Cooking time|
|Stuffed 6-8 lbs turkey||3 to 3 ½ hours|
|Unstuffed 6-8 lbs turkey||2 ½ to 3 hours|
- Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry on the inside and out. Season the body cavities with salt if desired. Fill the neck and body cavities of the turkey with stuffing (if using). Skewer the turkey’s neck skin to its rear side.
- Tuck the drumstick ends under the band of skin that runs across the tail. If there isn’t a skin band, bind the drumsticks to the tail. Twist the wing tips behind your back.
- In a shallow roasting pan, place the turkey breast side up on a rack. Apply some oil to the brush. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of one of the inside thigh muscles if desired. The thermometer should not come into contact with bone. Cover the turkey with foil, but only loosely.
- Roast for 2-and-a-quarter hours at 325°F. Remove the foil and cut a band of skin or string between the drumsticks to ensure even cooking of the turkey thighs. Continue roasting the turkey for another 30 to 45 minutes (do this for about 1 to 1-1/4 hours if the turkey is stuffed), or until the thermometer reads 180°F and the stuffing center reaches 165°F. (The drumsticks should be able to move freely in their sockets and the juices should run clear.)
- Take the turkey out of the oven. Before cutting, cover with foil and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Place the turkey on a chopping board and set it aside. Afterward, carve the turkey and serve.
This recipe serves 12 to 14 people and can be made from start to finish in a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes, including a prep time of 15 minutes, a roasting time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, and a resting period of 15 minutes. If you’d like more ideas on ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey, then you should check out this video recipe.