Turkey 101

Get tips for buying, cooking, and carving your Thanksgiving bird from the experts at Cooking Light, Real Simple, and Sunset.

  • Buying the Thanksgiving Bird
    Sunset; James Carrier; Ojai Roast Turkey with Rosemary, Lemon, and Garlic

    Buying the Thanksgiving Bird

    There are basically seven different types of whole turkeys: frozen, fresh, natural, organic, free-range, heritage, and kosher. Frozen is the cheapest and most widely available. The drawbacks: you'll need considerable time to thaw in the refrigerator, and it may be injected with a salt solution to keep moist. See Sunset's Pick the Perfect Turkey for a quick primer on the differences between the turkey types.

  • turkey roasting 101
    Cooking Light

    How Much Turkey to Buy

    A good rule of thumb is to buy 1 pound of turkey per person to allow for seconds and leftovers. So if you're having 8 guests for Thanksgiving, you'll need an 8-pound bird. You know your crowd best, so buy the size that fits your needs.

  • Turkey Defrosting Tips

    Turkey Defrosting Tips

    The best–and safest–defrosting method is to set the bird in a shallow pan in the refrigerator for 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey. Keep in mind you'll need to save room in the refrigerator as this will take several days. The turkey is fully thawed when the thick part of the turkey registers 40 degrees. For tips to defrosting in a hurry, read, The Turkey is Still Frozen at RealSimple.com.

  • Roasting Turkey for Beginners

    Roasting Turkey for Beginners

    The key to roasting a perfect turkey is the temperature; you want moist, juicy meat on the inside and a crisp exterior. Keep your meat thermometer close by to ensure the bird reaches a safe internal temperature of between 165 and 180 degrees. An average 12-pound turkey with giblets will take around three hours to cook at 325 degrees. For a step-by-step guide, go to CookingLight.com.

  • Deconstructing a Turkey Carving
    Cooking Light

    Deconstructing Turkey Carving

    Once you've got your turkey perfectly cooked, you'll want to carve it properly too to ensure that you get the most meat you can from the bird.  "The whole turkey may look really pretty, but taking slices from the outside of the breast is difficult," says Cooking Light Test Kitchens staffer Sam Brannock.  Watch our "How to Carve a Turkey" video below for tips on good carving technique.

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