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Tips for Preparing a Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey cooking tipsFor home cooks, preparing a Thanksgiving turkey is a rite of passage. Not only do snafu opportunities abound, but there is added pressure on the holiday to prepare and serve a perfect meal for family and guests.

Whether you’re a seasoned Thanksgiving chef, or a newbie in the kitchen, these tips can help eliminate the stress associated with prepping your meal’s centerpiece:

Prepare Ahead

It’s hard to perfect a turkey when you’ve got endless side dishes to worry over simultaneously, so accept guests’ offers to bring some favorites. Assemble accompaniments to your meal in advance, especially sauces and dips, which actually improve in flavor over time.

Remember, you only have so much space in an oven, so schedule cooking accordingly to ensure everything is ready at mealtime.

Talk Turkey

You may not have aced home economics when you were in school, but the folks at the Turkey Talk hotline are experts in the field. You can get most turkey conundrums solved by giving them a call at 1-800-BUTTERBALL, or by emailing them at

Work Smart

Maintaining your knives streamlines kitchen operations, especially the formidable task of carving your Thanksgiving turkey. But knife sharpening doesn’t need to be daunting. In fact, every home cook should get comfortable doing this regularly. With the right tools, your knives will last longer, and be safer and more efficient.

Generally, you should hone or polish knife edges after each use and sharpen knives regularly with a high-quality sharpener. Look for a sharpener that offers diversity. For example, Edgeware’s adjustable knife sharpeners include coarse and fine sharpening slots for dull and damaged knives and regular maintenance respectively, and are ideal for sharpening a variety of knives from straight edge blades to serrated. For how-to videos and other tips on restoring your knives to their original factory angle, visit

When preparing the Thanksgiving meal, make sure your knives are sharp in the kitchen and to sharpen any knives that will be used to carve your bird at the table. Do this before setting the table so you won’t forget.

Getting it Right

The general wisdom is to allot 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person. Just be sure your turkey is big enough to provide you with leftovers! There’s nothing more satisfying than a turkey sandwich for lunch the day after Thanksgiving.

Ready your bird for the oven by following the National Turkey Federation guideline on thawing: for every 4 1/2 pounds of frozen turkey, thaw for 24-hours in the refrigerator.

You don’t need to be Julia Child to master the art of turkeys. By maintaining your kitchen tools and preparing ahead, you can make Turkey Day successful and stress-free.


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