Making your first Thanksgiving dinner can seem like a large undertaking. And if you have never made a turkey before, the thought of making one for a holiday can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some things to consider to make your first Turkey Day dinner a success.

Give The Turkey Time To Thaw Out Properly

Make sure your turkey is completely thawed out before you start prepping it. The two best ways to thaw a turkey are thawing it in the refrigerator or thawing it in cold water. According to the Butterball website:

  • Refrigerator thawing takes about 1 day for every 4 lbs of turkey. It is best to thaw the turkey in it’s original wrapper and place it in a tray. Once it is thawed, it should be cooked within 4 days.
  • Cold water thawing is faster but takes more effort. It is best done with the turkey placed breast side down in enough cold water to cover the bird completely. Thawing the bird will take about 30 minutes per pound. The water should be changed every 30 minutes. If the turkey cannot be covered completely with water, flip it every time you change the water to keep the turkey cold. This minimizes the growth of bacteria on your bird.

Prepare Yourself And The Turkey To Begin Baking

Figure out how long your turkey will take to cook ahead of time. This way, you know what time to start cooking the turkey so it is done in time for dinner. The wrapper on your turkey will give you the best temperature and time per pound to cook your meat. If you do not have one, invest in a meat thermometer. Do not use an oral fever thermometer to check your meat temperature. Many meat thermometers are fairly inexpensive, and using one will help ensure that your turkey is cooked all the way through.

Before you put your turkey in the oven, make sure you remove the bag of innards that usually comes inside of the turkey’s cavity. If your turkey is too big for your roasting pan and getting a bigger pan is not an option, consider cutting it up in to pieces, grilling it, or butterflying it by cutting out the turkey’s backbone (also known as spatchcocking your turkey) and cooking it on a rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Cooking times will vary if you decide to use any of those methods.

Mistakes Can Usually Be Fixed

Sometimes, no matter how well you think you’ve prepared yourself, mistakes happen. Here are some common mistakes and some tips on how to fix them.

  • The turkey is still raw – If your turkey looks great, but when you cut into it it’s still not cooked all the way, don’t panic! Your best bet to finish cooking the turkey is to cover it in foil, put it back in the oven, and raise the baking temperature. The foil will protect the skin on your bird from burning and your meat from drying out. If you set the temperature above 475°F you may end up burning your turkey. Adding a cup or two of liquid to your pan can keep the bottom of your turkey burning. You can use water, wine, or turkey stock.
  • The turkey is done, but dinner is hours away – If you do not need to use the oven for anything else, leave the turkey in the oven and set it to 200°F. You can place a pan of water under it to keep it from drying out. If you need to use your oven for other stuff, set the turkey aside and cover it and the pan in foil. This should keep your turkey warm for at least an hour.

Finally… enjoy! The holidays can be stressful, but ultimately they are about spending quality time with the people you love. We here at Gr8Rates4U wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you need a quick homeowner’s insurance policy quote, please do not hesitate to contact us today.