The countdown is over Thanksgiving is officially here. The Thanksgiving meal is the largest meal Americans prepare for each year with Turkey as the main attraction. Did you know? 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving. In fact, 88% of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey on Thanksgiving. As Thanksgiving approaches, cooking the traditional turkey dinner gives rise to anxieties and questions:
No worries I am here to help. By following a few simple steps will not only ease your holiday fears, but will ensure a delicious and a safe meal for you, your family, and your friends.
For proper food preparation, follow the following food safety steps:
Fresh or Frozen
If you choose to buy a frozen bird you may do so at any time, but make sure you have adequate storage space in your freezer. If you buy a fresh turkey, be sure you purchase it only 1-2 days before cooking. Do not buy a pre-stuffed fresh turkey.
What Size Turkey to Purchase
|Type of Turkey|
|Pounds to Buy|
1 pound per person
|Boneless breast of turkey||1/2 pound per person|
|Breast of turkey|
Pre-stuffed frozen turkey
|3/4 pound per person|
1/4 pounds per person-keep frozen until ready to cook
Another important step in the preparation process is thawing your turkey. There are three safe ways to thaw your turkey:
1. Refrigerator: place your bird as originally wrapped on a shelf with a pan underneath it to catch any leaking juices. Allow approximately 24 hours for each four to five pounds of bird to thaw. After thawing, it's safe to store the turkey for up to two more days. This is the USDA's recommended method of thawing.
2. Microwave Thawing: Follow the microwave oven manufacturer's instructions when defrosting a turkey. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.
3. Cold Water Method: Submerge the bird in its original packaging in cold tap water and change the water every 30 minutes. Allow about 30 minutes per pound of turkey to defrost. Cook immediately after thawing.
|Turkey Size||In the Refrigerator (Approximately 24 hours for every 4-5 lbs.)||In Cold Water (Approximately 30 minutes per lb.)|
|4-12 pounds||1-3 days||2-6 hours|
|12-16 pounds||3-4 days||6-8 hours|
|16-20 pounds||4-5 days||8-10 hours|
|20-24 pounds||5-6 days||10-12 hours|
For more information on turkey preparation visit the LSU AgCenter Website.
Cooking Time - Unstuffed
|Size of Turkey||Hours to Prepare|
|8 to 12 pounds||2 3/4 to 3 hours|
|12 to 14 pounds||3 to 3 1/4 hours|
|14 to 18 pounds||3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours|
|18 to 20 pounds||4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours|
|20 to 24 pounds||4 1/2 to 5 hours|