How to cook a turkey

Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
How to cook a turkey
Sun, 11-18-2012 - 12:27pm

Sometimes, I'll have my kiddos write about how to cook a turkey.  It's interesting what they come up with.  The last time I made a turkey, it seemed like I followed one of their recipes.  I used a thermometer to tell when it was "done" instead of the popup thingie (per Alton Brown's suggestion) and it was raw still.  I took out the neck, but forgot the giblets.  It wasn't horrible for my first try (after the kitchen ladies cooked it longer for me), but it wasn't the best. 

My sisters and I decided we're cooking this year instead of having Mom do it.  We'll see how that works out- my mother is a control freak- but I'm going to try.  I already have looked up recipes and I think it's going to turn out tastier than my mom's (she just throws it in the oven with a little butter) long as it's done.

I thought I'd ask you ladies...any tips?  Disaster stories?  Awesome recipes you know will make it taste really good and not be dry?  My mom's is always dry.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2005
Sun, 11-18-2012 - 1:47pm

I feel so much more qualified to comment on cooking posts rather than relationship posts!  :)

First, depending on the number of people you have, I'd recommend a turkey breast rather than a turkey.  They are much easier to cook and although they are more expensive per pound, you're getting more white meat.  That's what I do when I am in my own kitchen - we only cook a whole turkey at my parent's house.  Generally, my Dad is in charge of the turkey prep, but he uses an old Betty Crocker cookbook which is like our turkey bible.  I found some of the tips here:

I would definitely go by a meat thermometer, rather than the pop-up thing.  You really want to ensure it's cooked, but it also needs to rest for a bit out of oven before you try to carve it. Oven space can be very tight depending on the other recipes you're making, so I would also suggest jotting down an "oven schedule" to make sure you'll have time for everything to cook.

Hope that helps a little!

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2009
Sun, 11-18-2012 - 1:54pm
I think it was 3 years ago that I cooked my first whole turkey all by my lonesome and it turned out great. I brined it for 3 days in a blend of citrus juices and chicken broth, then I rubbed a bit of olive oil on it, and popped it into the oven covered in foil. I didn't stuff the inside, but I did but some broth in the bottom of the pan and basted it periodically. Several hours later I had a very moist turkey that was lightly seasoned and didn't require gravy. Growing my mom always made turkey so dry it was like eating sawdust. Now I know that brining is the trick to a moist turkey or any cooked bird really.
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Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Sun, 11-18-2012 - 3:18pm

  Hi  I have cooked turkey for years.  I get juicy white meat.  When I was in college I worked in a kitchen to make expenses.  I learned slow cooking at low temperatures.  I use 250 degrees over night. Cover the turkey in heavy aluminum foil(never plastic) It does take longer.  Also remove neck heart etc from the turkey cavity, bend the aluminum foil that covers the turkey to keep the cavity open so the heat can reach inside.  Cooking time will vary by the oven and the weight of the turkey.   Slow cooking keeps the juices in.  Also It is used in restaurants to increase the yield.


Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
Sun, 11-18-2012 - 3:44pm
I do have a meat thermometer, which is what I used last time when it wasn't done. I suppose it wasn't in the right spot. Unfortunately, my mom already bought an almost 20 pound turkey. That's for five people. I do plan on brining it, which I've never done before and neither has my mom. Hopefully that'll make a difference in the moistness.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-1999
Sun, 11-18-2012 - 6:59pm

I have had them injected with Cajun spices, then deep fried - delish! Of course, you have to have a huge a** deep fryer. My mother makes hers the same way yours does, and she pulls the meat off of the bone once it's cooled which, usually makes it a tad dry in my opinion. She doesn't stuff hers, either. I've seen somewhere that soaking them overnight in a salt water brine makes them really tender, juicy and adds more flavor. Aren't you supposed to take them out every so often and baste them, too? I have no clue.

What's up with all the white meat eaters?  Dark meat, please ;]

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2008
Sun, 11-18-2012 - 8:59pm

sorry cant help you there because for a very long time I have tried so hard to stay away from red meat and turkey and chicken.. I am sort of a bad vegetarian as they say.. I am  not vegan but like I said try so hard not to eat red meat..

I usually just eat around the turkey and eat all the other things...

I do like the deep fried suggestion as that sounds yummy and I have seen that on t.v...

well good luck whatever you do..


Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
Sun, 11-18-2012 - 9:05pm
My brother in law usually fries his turkey. I've never really noticed a difference in the taste. The plan right now is to brine it, then stuff it with some veggies and apple slices, and hope it comes out okay!