To help you celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, the National Turkey Federation provides tips on selecting, preparing and cooking a turkey.

  • Allow one pound of uncooked turkey per person for an 8 to 12 pound turkey. For a larger turkey, allow 3/4 pounds of turkey per person. This should give each person a satisfying serving of turkey on Thanksgiving day with plenty left over to take home.
  • Frozen turkey should be thawed in the refrigerator in a shallow pan. Whole frozen turkeys thaw at a rate of 3 to 4 pounds every 24 hours. A frozen turkey will thaw faster if it is placed in a clean sink, with the sealed wrapper on, and submerged in cold water. The cold water must be drained and replaced every 30 minutes. Using this method, a frozen turkey will thaw at the rate of one pound every half an hour.
  • A turkey must not be refrozen after it has thawed. It should be either refrigerated or cooked.
  • When roasting a turkey in the oven, loosely place an aluminum foil tent over the turkey during the first 1 to 1 1/2 hours of roasting. Then remove the aluminum foil and allow the turkey to brown.
  • The turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh and 170 degrees F in the breast.

For a whole turkey, the food thermometer should be placed in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone. The juice of the meat should run clear, and the drumsticks should be soft and easily moveable at the joints.

For more information on turkey, please visit the National Turkey Federation website at The website includes:

  • tips on deep frying, smoking and grilling turkey;
  • turkey etiquette (how to carve and present a turkey); and
  • creative leftover turkey recipes, i.e. turkey tetrazzini and turkey curry (buffet, anyone?)

Classic, easy recipes

Some easy recipes for a traditional Thankgiving meal can be found at the Food Network’s Thanksgiving Recipes website.