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With the Thanksgiving season come the savory smells of a holiday feast. Plan ahead to make your turkey dinner a hit!

Choose a bird

  • Not sure what size to buy? Aim for 1 to 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person you are cooking for (e.g. if you’re cooking for a group of 6, you’ll want to buy a 6- to 9-pound turkey).
  • If you’re buying a fresh turkey, buy it 1 to 2 days before cooking it. A frozen turkey can be kept frozen until ready to thaw.

Prep your turkey

  • Follow proper thawing procedures: to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, allow approximately 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. Or, seal your turkey in a plastic bag and submerge it in cold water, allowing 30 minutes for each pound – don’t forget to replace the water every 30 minutes.
  • Remove all giblets from the turkey cavity. You may cook them separately for stock or save them for your stuffing.
  • Brine your bird for moist, tender meat. Most brining solutions contain salt, water and an array of spices and aromatics. Find a recipe you like and soak your turkey overnight.
  • Want to make the meat even moister? Rub your turkey down with butter or oil just before popping it in the oven.
  • To ensure an even cook, truss the turkey by tying the legs together with some kitchen string.

Cook it to perfection

  • Don’t forget about the stuffing! For best results, cook your stuffing separately. This shortens overall cooking time, allows your turkey to cook more evenly and lessens the chance of spreading bacteria. Instead, fill your turkey with herbs to give it more flavor.
  • Set your oven temperature to no lower than 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and adjust the cook time for the size of your turkey.
  • Consider using a cooking bag to seal in moisture. Alternatively, you may cover your turkey with aluminum foil for the first 1 to 1 ½ hours of cooking.
  • Use a food thermometer at the thickest part of the turkey breast to check the internal temperature. Your turkey is ready and safe to eat when it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Happy Thanksgiving!