Your ‘HELP I’M HOSTING THANKSGIVING AND I DON”T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THE TURKEY‘ questions answered.
Are you wondering how to cook a turkey? Or what size turkey for a family of 6? What about the best way to brine a turkey? Or the dreaded question we ask ourselves every year: How do I safely thaw a turkey? Well, you can find all of your Thanksgiving Turkey questions answered right here!
What size Turkey Should I get?
This is preference, but experience points in the direction of ‘bigger is better‘. For our family of 5 (3 big men 1 woman and a vegan) we usually get a 20-22 pound turkey, with some left overs. Smaller families with not so big appetites should estimate about 1 1/2 pounds per serving (this accounts for bone weight). For larger families with big appetites, I suggest at least 2 pounds per serving for more than enough left overs.
Need a turkey roasting rack to roast your turkey? This Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless 16-Inch Rectangular Roaster with Rack can roast up to a 23-25 pound turkey! It is also more durable than some of the other options out there, and is dishwasher safe (which is HUGE in my book).
How Do I Safely Thaw The Turkey:
The safest way to thaw your turkey is in the refrigerator, with the bird requiring about 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Make sure your refrigerator is set to about 40 degrees F. A 15 pound turkey will take about 3 days to thaw, 20 pound will take 4 days, and so on. After it has thawed, it is safe for another two days if stored in the refrigerator.
CLICK HERE or the image below to download your own FREE Thanksgiving Printables to help you organize your recipes! The printables come with all of the information found in this blog post on how to brine and cook a turkey, as well as thanksgiving timelines and a brining recipe!
How Do I Brine The Turkey:
This is the meat and potatoes of this ‘how to brine and cook a turkey’ post! The brine can be as simple or as complex as you want, as long as it has the 4 main components:
- Liquid: water, vegetable broth, orange juice, apple cider…the options are endless
- Salt: Sea salt, table salt, pink Himalayan salt, apple wood smoked salt are just a few options
- Sugar: Brown sugar is a favorite of many, but granulated sugar is okay too. Sometimes the liquid already has a lot of sugar, such as in apple cider, in which case you will not need as much.
- Aromatics: This is where you can get REALLY creative. Many peoples favorites are apples, thyme, garlic, orange peels, cloves, rosemary, sage, shallots, peppercorns and lemon!
Let’s Break It Down:
Water, salt, sugar and a couple herbs is totally fine. As is water and vegetable broth, applewood smoked salt, orange peels, apple slices, thyme, garlic, peppercorns and brown sugar. Make it however simple or complex your little heart desires! The general rule of thumb is:
For every one gallon of water and add 3/4 cup of kosher salt and 1/2 cup of sugar.
The rest is up to you! You want the entire turkey submerged, and you should brine it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, up to 48 hours.
If you are in need of a brining bucket, this one is similar to the one we have used for the past 5 years, and it works great! 5 Gallon White Bucket & Lid
How Long DO I Need To Cook The Turkey?
Once the bird is done brining, remove it from the brine and the refrigerator 1 hour before placing it in the oven to cook. Pat dry the inside and outside of the bird and rub the skin with herb butter (or regular). Most sized turkeys require 16-20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F. Example: A 20 pound turkey can cook anywhere from 5 1/4 hrs to 6 1/2 hrs. More time is needed if it is stuffed (which I don’t recommend, drys it out), and if you open the oven often while it is cooking. The final temperature should actually be around 170 degrees F when fully cooked, not 165 degrees.
Need a turkey thermometer? This 12″ Mechanical Meat Thermometer is great!
Winc Wine Subscription:
You know what goes great with just about every recipe?…WINE. If you are interested in testing out new wines, you should check out the wine subscription service ‘Winc’! Winc is a direct-to-consumer winery revolutionizing the way you discover, buy and share wine. By working directly with vineyards and winemakers, they are able to give their Winc Membership members access to exceptional, small-lot wines from around the world. I have personally taken their quiz where they match their wine selection to your palate, and they were spot on!
Food Safety Tip when prepping your bird:
Don’t wash your turkey with water. Water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and the CDC actually does NOT recommend washing any poultry with water to prevent the spread of food born illness.
Check out what the CDC Recommends here: CDC Food Safety
Did you enjoy this ‘How To Brine And Cook A Turkey’ post? If so, go check out my ‘Wasabi Roasted Brussels Sprouts‘ recipe, which makes a GREAT Thanksgiving side dish!