For most Americans, the star of any Thanksgiving feast is — of course — the turkey. And even though this year your turkey might be a bit smaller, you can still create a delicious intimate feast for your close family and friends. To make sure you’re set up for turkey day success this year, we’ve compiled some of our favorite tips and tricks to make an amazing turkey — plus some creative leftover recipes you’ll love!
Choosing the right size turkey starts with knowing how many people will be enjoying your beautiful bird. The general rule for turkey math is 1 to 1½ pounds per person, slightly more if you want to enjoy a good amount of leftovers. If you’ve got an oven to spare, you can even pick up two small turkeys that will cook faster than a large one. Additionally, with two turkeys you can experiment with different cooking techniques for an even more impressive spread.
Another general rule of turkey preparation is to cook your bird 20 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird, and about 20 to 40 minutes more for a stuffed turkey. The best way to ensure your turkey is cooked to the correct amount of doneness is to invest in a trustworthy meat thermometer. Your turkey is ready when it has reached an internal temperature of 165°F, but be sure to check your turkey’s temp at several different points to make certain all of its parts are fully cooked.
It’s Brine Time
Turkey is a lean meat without a lot of fat which means you have to take extra precautions to ensure it doesn’t end up tough or dry. If you’re wondering how to keep your turkey moist, try a brine. A brine is a mixture of salt and water that you can dip your turkey in to let it absorb extra moisture and seasoning. For a quick and simple brine, mix 1 quart of warm water with 1 cup of kosher salt, then place your turkey into a large pot, pour in your brine mix, then 3 more quarters of water until your bird is completely submerged. Then, cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, rinse your bird and pat dry.
Carve Like a Pro
Make Your Turkey Last
After your Thanksgiving dinner is done, the best way to make your turkey last until leftovers is to refrigerate in shallow, airtight containers. This can make your turkey last up to three or four days! If you want your turkey to last even longer, freeze it in an airtight container, or wrap it tightly in freeze guard or aluminum foil. It’s important to note that turkey thawed in a microwave or in cold water should be enjoyed immediately, and not re-refrigerated or frozen. For best results, let thaw in the fridge, reheat in the oven and enjoy!
Leftovers Done Right
The days of throwing your leftovers into a sandwich and calling it a day are over. Check out some of our favorite out-of-the-bread ways to enjoy your next day noshes.
Need even more turkey tips? Watch this video for the best brine, stuffing dos and don’ts, veggie roasting tricks and more!