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How To Cook A Turkey For Dummies (3)

How To Cook A Turkey For Dummies

While many of us have probably cooked several Thanksgiving turkeys before, someone is preparing it for their friends or family for the first time every year. Whole turkeys are an excellent way to feed a lot of people, and they always look amazing on the holiday dinner table, but they may be quite difficult to prepare.

However, cooking a turkey is easier than you might believe, particularly if you take your time and follow a few simple procedures like we have outlined for you in this article.

How To Cook A Turkey For Dummies (3)

Turkey Nutrition Facts

How To Cook A Turkey For Dummies

Tips for Cooking Turkey

When cooking turkey, especially for the first time, you’ll need all the help you can get. As a result, we have compiled a number of helpful tips to help you achieve the best results when cooking turkey:

The right type and size to buy – The usual rule of thumb for turkey serving size is one pound per person, but if you want leftovers or have a few big eaters in the group, you’ll want to go up to 1 ½ to 2 pounds per person.

Turkeys come in varieties, including organic, free-range, and kosher, as well as brined or seasoned kinds. Although the type of turkey you choose has little bearing on how the bird cooks, it is best to stick to a plain turkey the first time around, avoiding any that have been brined or seasoned.

Avoid rinsing – Although it may be tempting to rinse the turkey once it has been unwrapped, doing so is especially unsafe. It can taint cooking utensils and spread bacteria to other foods. A whole turkey should only be rinsed after it has been brined.

Brining a turkey – Brining a turkey ensures moist and tasty. The meat must be soaked for several hours in a salted and occasionally seasoned marinade before cooking. The turkey is brined and chilled in a big container (or put in a cold cooler). Per pound of turkey, it needs to sit for an hour. Rinse off the brine before cooking; the turkey will not need to be salted because it has already been seasoned well.

The Basics of Cooking Turkey

Cooking a turkey is much easier than the process you’re probably imagining. Below, we have outlined 7 easy steps to follow when cooking a turkey:

Place the vegetables in the pan

Begin by preparing the meal in a large roasting pan or baking dish. Place the mixed vegetables in the bottom of the pan after slicing one carrot, one onion, and one celery rib.

Clean Turkey

This is the most difficult part of cooking a turkey if you have never done so before. Unwrap your turkey, give it a good rinse, and pat it dry with paper towels (inside and out). If the tail is still attached, cut it off, then remove the gizzard bag and the neck from within the bird. But don’t throw them away; they can be used to make gravy and other recipes.

Season Turkey

Mix salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a small-sized bowl. Apply the spice mixture liberally to the turkey’s inside cavity.

Make the herb butter.

In a small saute pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add a handful of sage and rosemary leaves and sauté for 60 seconds after the butter has melted and the edges have darkened. Turn off the heat and remove the herbs from the butter with tongs, but don’t discard them because they’ll be used in the stuffing.

Stuff and Glaze Turkey

Begin by stuffing the bird cavity with the herbs from the herb butter. Tie the legs together with butcher’s string or dental floss so that they criss-cross at the ends. Using a brush, paint the herb butter all over the outside of the turkey. Apply a coat of your seasoning mixture to it.

Cook the Turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F and roast the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 175°F, uncovered. Check the temperature in the deepest area of the thigh, and don’t cover the pan with anything while it cooks.

Carve Turkey

It’s time to slice the turkey and relax! Remove the cord from the turkey and place it on a carving board. Legs and thighs are removed first, followed by drumsticks, wishbone, breasts, and wings. Slice the thigh and breast flesh into desired parts depending on your preferences.


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Cooking Time for Turkey

The ideal cooking time for turkeys generally varies according to the weight and the presence or absence of stuffing. Ideally, you should follow these guidelines when cooking turkey:

Turkey weight Cooking time (without stuffing) Cooking time (with stuffing)
8 to 12 pounds 2 ¾ to 3 hours 3 to 3 ½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 ¾ hours 3 ¼ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 ¾ to 4 ¼ hours 4 to 4 ½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 ½ to 5 hours 4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hours
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How To Cook A Turkey For Dummies (3)

Roasted Turkey Recipe (12 Servings)

  • Author: Bobby


  • 1 tablespoon of unbleached, all-purpose flour (gluten-free blend or cornstarch can also be used)
  • 18 lb whole turkey, the turkey size will vary depending on your needs
  • ½ cup of butter cut into 8 slices
  • 1 tablespoon of Homemade Seasoned Salt
  • 1 onion quartered
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a roasting pan lined with a rack, place a turkey-sized oven bag. Fill the bag with flour.
  2. Remove the turkey from its packaging and lay it on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Season the butter pats liberally with salt and pepper. Slide the butter pats beneath the skin of the turkey, distributing them evenly.
  4. Season the bird on the outside with a good amount of salt and pepper. Place the onion slices in the cavity of the turkey.
  5. Place the turkey in the bag that has been prepared. Use the silicone zip tie that comes with it to close it. Into the roasting pan, tuck the bag’s corners.
  6. Bake the roasting pan for many hours, depending on the size of the bird. Refer to the time chart that came with the oven bag. The interior temperature of the turkey should be 165 degrees F.
  7. Take the turkey out of the oven. Remove the turkey from the bag and place it on a serving plate or carving surface. Allow at least 30 minutes for resting.
  8. Gravy, soups, and stocks can be made with any drippings that remain in the bag or roasting pan. Drain the water and put it to good use.
  9. Carve and serve the turkey.

For more interesting ways to cook turkey, you could watch this video recipe and get some really great ideas.