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Grandma’s Secret Turkey Tips

Grandma knows best when it comes to cooking the Thanksgiving turkey.

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Foil cover on roasted Thanksgiving turkeyTaste of Home

Tent With Aluminum Foil

According to Margaret Dahlgren of Bird Island, Minnesota, “The best way to roast an unstuffed turkey is in a shallow roasting pan with a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over it. Roast at 325 for 15 to 20 minutes per pound. After roasting, let the turkey stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.” Here’s how to pick the best roasting pan for your kitchen. 

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Turkey in Oven.; Shutterstock ID 1269477514; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHBenoist/Shutterstock

Roast Turkey the Night Before

Preparing a large meal like Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful. Susan McClure of Nimes, France, says, “Save the last-minute rush when you’re serving turkey and stuffing to a large group. Roast the turkey the day before, carve it and store the meat and stuffing separately in the refrigerator. Reheat the food with an improvised steamer. Place the turkey and stuffing in mesh baskets or metal colanders over saucepans filled with water or broth. Steam until warmed through.” Or try these other ways to reheat turkey without drying it out. 

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Raw breakfast sausages on a wooden board, uncooked sausages for breakfast ; Shutterstock ID 1507042004; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHolga's captured moments/Shutterstock

Add Breakfast Sausage

“This tradition dates to my great-grandmother. It makes the turkey very moist while adding subtle flavor,” says Wendy Lee Paffenroth, Pine Island, New York. Turn it into a ‘porcupine!’ Cut breakfast sausage links (several packages) in half. Skewer links with plain wooden toothpicks and stick them in the turkey all over. Add an inch of water to the bottom of your roasting pan, cover bird with foil and place in oven. Roast as usual. About 1 1/2 hours before the meal, remove the sausages and serve them as appetizers. Continue roasting the bird, adding water as necessary, until it turns golden brown and tests done.” Even the busiest cooks can make these super easy Thanksgiving appetizers.

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Cooked turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas in a roasting pan ready for carving; Shutterstock ID 737627662; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHElena Veselova/Shutterstock

Flip It Over


Don’t let the turkey dry out! “For moister white meat, turn the turkey on its breast while roasting,” says reader Lorna Jacobsen of Arrowwood, Alberta. Don’t make these common mistakes when cooking your turkey. 

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Close up of a slow cooker working on kitchen shelf; Shutterstock ID 310888622Devrim PINAR/Shutterstock

Use Your Slow Cooker


“To get Thanksgiving dinner started quicker, I put the giblets in the slow cooker the night before, with enough water to cover, and simmer them overnight,” says Terri Faas of Lompoc, California. “The next morning, they’re ready to be chopped and added to the dressing mixture, as is the hot broth.” Check out more ways to prep Thanksgiving dinner in advance.

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Roasted Cut Up Turkey Platter For Thanksgiving with All the Sides; Shutterstock ID 1207094152; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Buy Extra Meat


Make sure you don’t get left holding the last turkey wing. “At Thanksgiving, I often buy a turkey plus a turkey breast so there will be plenty of white meat for everyone,” says reader Lisa Tucker of Streator, Illinois. These tips will help you keep your sanity if you’re hosting Thanksgiving. 

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Fire Up the Grill


“In 1972, Mom had just put the turkey in the oven when the power went out. We had to get creative, so we used our charcoal grill to cook the turkey. The grill provided us with the most memorable Thanksgiving we’ve ever eaten,” says Dianne Nachtigal of Avoca, Wisconsin. Learn how to grill a turkey.

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closeup of a rustic wooden table full of ingredients to prepare a stuffed turkey, such as a raw turkey, apple, onion, potato, carrot and different spices; Shutterstock ID 1223612134; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHnito/Shutterstock

Season Under the Skin


Reader Mandi Wood of Eastanollee, Georgia, writes, “I think it’s wise to lift the turkey skin, rub the seasonings onto the meat and place fresh herbs along with it. Then, place the skin back down and coat it with butter. Rub more seasoning and fresh herbs on top of the butter-slathered skin. The butter adds a golden crispness.” Check out more tips for the most flavorful turkey ever. 

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White onion on a wooden rustic table. Organic vegetables. Close-up of sliced raw organic white onion on a plate.; Shutterstock ID 681266095; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHAll for you friend/Shutterstock

Add an Onion


“My mother-in-law always put a quartered onion inside the turkey to add flavor. I do the same thing,” says Connie Thompson of Blackfoot, Idaho.  Read up on more things you should put inside your turkey (but not stuffing!)

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Slow-cooked chicken dinner portions being prepared for freezing or chilling.; Shutterstock ID 224231977; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHJoe Gough/Shutterstock

Freeze the Leftovers


Let no turkey go to waste! “Dice up leftover turkey and freeze in 1 1/2 cup portions for quick casseroles or to toss in salads,” says Julie Beth Lamb of Lindsey, California. Psst—here are our favorite recipes for leftover turkey.

Originally Published in Country

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