Whether you’re a seasoned turkey cook who’s overwhelmed by the year’s newest fad, or you just want to up your hosting game, I’ve got you covered.
You can always rely on my surefire cooking guide, whether you are a Thanksgiving chef or a Thanksgiving newcomer preparing a whole turkey for the first time. If you keep to these essentials, you won’t require a unique recipe.
Turkey Nutrition Facts
Tips To Cook A 12 lb Turkey
- The average 12-pound turkey takes three days to thaw in the refrigerator.
- A plastic knot holds the drumsticks together in many turkeys. Check the turkey package for instructions; you may not need to remove the tie unless the turkey is being cooked at a very high temperature.
- Note that the turkey can also be placed directly on an oven rack with a large roasting pan underneath to catch the drippings. This method creates a convection-like atmosphere, allowing heat to circulate more evenly throughout the turkey.
- It takes to stuff the turkey adds to the overall cooking time. The turkey will cook more evenly if it is not stuffed with stuffing. I recommend making your stuffing with turkey giblet stock, so the stuffing has plenty of flavors.
- Although some people do not like to truss their turkey, I recommend doing it. The purpose of trussing is to keep the legs and wings near the body while cooking so they don’t sprawl out.
- It’s worth noting that the lower oven temperature at the conclusion of the cooking process can aid in determining when the turkey is done. Lowering the oven temperature if the turkey is cooking faster than expected will help extend the cooking time.
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How To Cook A 12 Ib Turkey
Step 1: Thaw the turkey several days ahead of time
If you’re starting with a frozen turkey, it’ll take a few days to defrost. To keep the turkey refrigerated during the cooking procedure, thaw it in the refrigerator.
To avoid leaks, place the wrapped frozen turkey in a pan before placing it in the refrigerator. Each pound of turkey will take around 5 hours to defrost.
So, if you had a 12-pound turkey, it should take 60 hours to defrost – that’s about two and half days. If you need to defrost it faster, place it in a large tub of chilly water and keep changing the water to keep it cold until the turkey is completely defrosted.
Step 2: Before roasting the turkey, bring it to room temperature
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 2 to 5 hours before cooking to get it closer to room temperature (depending on the size of the bird). That way, the turkey will cook more quickly and evenly.
Step 3: Remove the giblets and rinse the turkey.
Remove the turkey from its package when you’re ready to cook it. In most cases, turkeys are packaged with the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, and liver) in the main cavity or the neck opening. Remove the giblets, which are usually wrapped in a little paper packet.
You can use the heart and gizzard to make stock for stuffing or dressing if you desire. Put the chopped heart and gizzard into a small saucepan, cover with water, add salt, bring to simmer for an hour or so.
The neck can either be cooked with the turkey or used to make turkey stock. You can also make giblet gravy with all of the giblets.
Using water, rinse the turkey both inside and out. Remove any stray turkey feathers you find. To dry the turkey, use paper towels.
Step 4: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Step 5: Toss the aromatics in with the turkey and truss it
Use a tablespoon of lemon juice to coat the inside of the cavity. Then rub a couple of teaspoons of salt all over the turkey’s insides.
In the turkey’s main cavity, place the cut onion, several sprigs of parsley, a diced carrot or two, and some leaves celery tops. These are aromatics that will flavor the turkey as it cooks from the inside.
Furthermore, to keep the aromatics from falling out while roasting the turkey, cover the entrance with aluminum foil or close it with metal skewers or kitchen twine – not nylon string.
Then fill the neck opening with a few sprigs of parsley, cover it with the surrounding turkey skin, and secure it with skewers or string.
To truss, tie the turkey’s legs together and hold them close to the body, and wrap a rope around the turkey’s body to keep the wings in place.
Step 6: Season it up
Season the outside of the turkey by rubbing either softened butter or extra virgin olive oil all over it. Season the turkey on all sides with a good amount of salt, and season the turkey with black pepper as well.
Step 7: Place the turkey on the rack, breast side down
Place the turkey on a rack over a strong roasting pan large enough to catch all the drippings breast down.
You may be wondering the best way to tell if the turkey is breast side down – make sure the legs are down and the wings are high.
You can proceed to add sprigs of fresh thyme, sage, and/or rosemary; they tuck them beneath the wings or around the outside of the turkey.
Step 8: Roast the turkey
Before you put the turkey in the oven, make an approximate estimate of how long it will take to roast the turkey in total. They normally suggest allowing 15 minutes per pound of turkey.
See the table below for a better reference.
12 Ib (Stuffed)
12 Ib (Unstuffed)
Step 9: Brown the breast
When the turkey is almost done (approximately 150°F for the breast), turn it over, so the breast is on top and places it in a 500°F oven or under the broiler for 4 to 5 minutes, just enough time to brown the breast.
Step 10: Make sure the turkey is done
An hour before the turkey should be done, start taking temperature readings using a meat thermometer inserted deep into the thickest section of the turkey breast and thigh.
The breast should reach a temperature of 165°F, while the dark meat – thighs and legs – should reach a temperature of 165°F to 170°F. Since the temperature of the turkey will continue to rise once it is removed from the oven, remove it when the breast temperature is 155°F to 160°F and the thigh temperature is 160°F to 165°F.
Step 11: Rest and carve the turkey
Transfer the turkey let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. To carve the turkey, turn it from the breast side up.Print
- Defrost your turkey.
- Air out your turkey.
- Preheat the oven. Set the oven to 350°F and place the rack on the bottom rung.
- Place the turkey breast side up on the roasting rack and brush it with your favorite flavored compound butter.
- If necessary, season your turkey.
- Fill the neck cavity with an apple, but leave the main cavity empty.
- Include some aromatics.
- The turkey should be covered (and then uncovered).
- Moisten the turkey using a basting or other method.
- Calculate the cooking time and temperature for the turkey.
- Check the turkey’s temperature.
- Allow the turkey to rest.
- Serve and enjoy.
Watch this video recipe to know how to cook a 12 ib turkey.