Thanksgiving Turkey Q & A

Find answers to common questions about preparing your Thanksgiving turkey, including tips for buying, preparing, stuffing, and cooking your turkey.

What size turkey should I buy?

You should plan on purchasing about 1-1/2 pounds of turkey for each person.

What kind of pan do I use to cook the turkey?

Dark roasting pans cook faster than shiny metal pans.

You can use foil roasting pans, but be sure to buy more than one so you can double or triple the thickness—and thus the durability—of the pan.

How do I prepare the turkey?

Remove a turkey from the refrigerator about one hour before placing it in the oven.

Brush the turkey with melted butter or oil before roasting to assist in browning and adding flavor.

Baste only at the beginning of the roasting process. Basting later may make the skin soft instead of crispy.

How much stuffing should I plan to make?

Estimate about one cup of stuffing per pound of turkey for each person.

Don't pack stuffing into the turkey cavity; spoon it lightly into the turkey and neck cavities. Stuffing expands as it absorbs moisture from the bird.

Make sure to check the cooking times. Roasting times for stuffed versus unstuffed turkeys are different. Stuffing your bird increases cooking time, so add about 5 to 7 minutes per pound. (Check out our cooking time chart for more tips.)

How will I know when the turkey is done?

Whether roasting or grilling, use a meat thermometer so you'll know when the turkey reaches a safe internal temperature.

Allow the bird to rest, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes after cooking. This redistributes the juices and makes for smooth carving.

Be sure to refrigerate or freeze your turkey within two hours of cooking to keep the meat safe from bacteria.

Can I roast my turkey the day before Thanksgiving and reheat it?

Yes. After the turkey is completely cooked through, skim the fat off the drippings. Cut and arrange slices of turkey in an ungreased, shallow roasting pan, and pour the drippings over the turkey. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight. On Thanksgiving Day, bake the sliced turkey at 350° for 45-65 minutes or until heated through.

How long can I keep turkey leftovers in the refrigerator?

We recommend eating leftover turkey within 3 days. You can freeze turkey leftovers for up to 2 months.

More Turkey Tips