How to Prep Turkey for Thanksgiving

Don't wait until the day before Thanksgiving to start prepping your turkey. There's lots to think about and some actions to take to make sure your turkey is ready to be  enjoyed for Thanksgiving dinner! Here's everything you need to know!


If your turkey is frozen, you'll need a defrosting plan. It can take 5+ days to defrost a turkey, so you need to plan ahead!

Defrosting Plan

You can either thaw your turkey: 1) In the fridge (this is the best method, but it requires more time) Or 2) In a cold water bath (this is quicker, but a bit more difficult)

All About Defrosting:

- Allow 1 day in fridge for 4 pounds of turkey. So, if your turkey is 16 pounds, it will need to thaw for 4 days in fridge. - Use turkey within 4 days of thawing.

Refrigerator Thawing

- Keep in cold water bath (completely covered) about 30 minutes per pound. So, if your turkey is 16 pounds, it will need to thaw for 8 hours in cold water bath. - However, note that water must be changed every 30 minutes.

Cold Water Thawing

Make a Brine Plan


Are you planning to brine your turkey? If so, decide what kind of brine. Most need to be prepped the day before you want to cook your turkey. There are lots of types of brines, but the most important question is wet or dry?

What is Brining?

Brining is a technique that uses salt to increase a turkey's moisture and improves its flavor.  Salt (and other flavors) can be infused into a turkey by using either a wet brine or a dry brine. Both require at least 8 hours, so you should plan in advance. Some turkey brands (like Butterball), use a brining solution in their turkeys and claim they don't need to be brined at home. But some people still like to do it for added moistness!

Types of Brine:

Wet Brine: A wet brine generally consists of water, salt, and aromatics (herbs, garlic, citrus, etc). The turkey will be full submerged in the solution and refrigerated for 8-24 hours. Dry Brine: A dry brine consists of salt and sometimes other aromatics. The mixture is rubbed on the turkey and in the cavity and the turkey is refrigerated for 12-24 hours.

A majority of Thanksgiving turkeys are cooked in the oven, but there are SO many ways to cook a turkey and you should decide on your method ahead of time.


Plan Cooking Method

Cooking Methods:

1) Oven Roasting 2) Grilled 3) Slow Cooker 4) Deep Fried 5) Smoked 6) Sous-Vide 7) Convection Oven 8) Microwave (yes, this is possible!)

Planning to stuff?


You'll also want to decide if you're going to stuff your turkey or leave it unstuffed as this will alter cooking time. Lots of experts recommend keeping the stuffing on the side, but some people like stuffing the turkey, too.

Stuffing Info.

Lots of people love the tradition of stuffing their Thanksgiving turkeys.  BUT it's important to be aware of how to make a stuffed turkey safe to eat as undercooked stuffing is one of the main causes of salmonella on Thanksgiving.

Tips on Stuffing:

- Be sure to stuff turkey loosely instead of packing it in. -Cook your turkey immediately after stuffing it. -Be sure stuffing is up to temperature; not just the turkey. Stuffing should be at 165 degrees in order to be safe to consume.

Make sure you have all the tools you'll need to cook and carve your turkey, so Thanksgiving morning can be a breeze.


Get Your Tools Ready

Turkey Tools

Here' are the most useful tools for cooking your Thanksgiving turkey: 1) Turkey Roasting Pan 2) Meat Thermometer 3) Fat Separator 4) Carving Board 5) Carving Knife 6) Brining Bag

Voilá !

Happy Thanksgiving!

Now you're ready to cook your turkey and enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends!