How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey Testimonials Page 8
- I just wanted to let you know that I ended-up cooking my 11 lb. turkey "exactly" the way you recommended, and it was AWESOME! I used a roasting pan (with a lid) and the meat just "fell off both the legs" when I took it out of the oven after the initial 20 min's @ 475 degrees, then 250 degrees for 2 hours and 30 minutes (it was actually just under 11lbs.). I just wanted to THANK YOU! Leanne L., 10/11/2011
- These pictures were taken in 2009. I'm trying to find my 2010 pictures, as soon as I do, I will send them with this years Turkey! Thanks for making my family's Thanksgiving special and a memorable turkey every year! Thanks again, Christopher B. Simi Valley, CA USA 11/7/2011
- Last year I cooked our turkey for the first time in our family's get together. I was 29 years old and had never cooked a turkey. I googled how to cook the best turkey and found this recipe. I had thanksgiving at my house for the first time and my turkey was awesome. It was the first time that there was no turkey leftover after dinner. We actually had ham left over which never happens. This year I shared the site with my coworkers. Julio L., Chino, CA 11/9/2011
- I was given a recipe similar to this about 13 years ago by an out of state relative. I used it for several years and then lost the recipe during a move. That relative had passed away and I could not find anyone who had it. I was delighted to find your site four years ago and began using your recipe. Needless to say the family was delighted as well saying it was the best turkey they have had since I lost that earlier recipe. The turkey has been perfect every time I cook it. Thanks Again,
Hill Country of Texas
- I am signed up to make the turkey this Thanksgiving for a family gathering at my mother in laws. My wife was furious because she was sure (not without reason) that I would wreck it. She was so certain, that I had to make a practice turkey to prove I wasn't poison her family. We just finished eating the scrimmage turkey and it was fantastic. The timing and temps you gave were right on. The white meat was juicy and tender.
My only note of caution is that by following the recipe, the skin stays pretty pale. I let it sit for an extra 20 minutes with the cover off to give it a little color. Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe! I'll let you know how game day turns out.
San Rafael, CA 11/12/11
- Are you kidding me...
I am a professional cook, I do not use the term chef. I have cooked turkeys for the better part of 34 years at the same fine establishment and have never, ever cooked one to 170 degrees for the internal breast. I set my internal probe to 155 and remove. It is going to cook another 10 degrees roughly just by sitting and resting. It comes out a perfect and I mean perfect juicy 165 degrees. 170? you say. If you wait that long by the time it rests it will be 180 and dry as a parched desert. Another thing, it is a better idea to take a variety of herbs (parsley, basil, mint, thyme, whatever and chop fine, whip or mix into your butter and stuff this in between the skin and breast.
James D. 11/16/11
James, I never said I was a professional cook... or a chef. All I'm trying to do here is share a way our family has used to successfully cook a turkey. To date they have all been juicy and delicious. Could they have been better? I don't know. I never heard of doing the way you described. There's been a couple of people in the "disaster" section of this website that had trouble. But you can see from the testimonials that most people have been successful.
But I certainly respect your opinion and your ideas about chopping the different spices and whipping it with the butter sounds wonderful. So if anybody wants to cook their turkey this way, I say go for it and let me know how it comes out. And I want to sincerely thank you for taking your valuable time to share your expertise with us. I'll be chopping up the spices myself.
- I am a college student and we try to save money wherever we can find it. I went to Publix last week and they had turkeys on a massive sale! I got 9 pound turkey for 6 dollars. Once I bought it I realized the extent of my cooking ability was making hamburger helper and I went into a panic. I found your website and cooked the turkey exactly the way you described and it came out to be the most AMAZING turkey I have ever tasted. My roommates told me I would burn the dorm down but they were in awe when they tasted the turkey. You have made my little thanksgiving at college a huge hit and have really saved my neck. Thank you for your wonderful website and know that I really appreciate how easy you made it Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving! Steve L. 11/19/11
- I have heard about this recipe for years and will follow it to make my dinner even better.
Several yeas ago I added a step to my routine. It came from a family restaurant owner known for his terrific turkey dinners. Cut up an apple and put it in the cavity.
Thanks, Mike C. South Bend, Indiana 11/20/11.
- This was my first Thanksgiving turkey that I have ever made and decided to give your recipe a try. It turned out amazing. I did have a roasting pan but used tin foil to cover the top. I uncovered it for the last 30 minutes to get the golden brown on the turkey. I had a twelve pound turkey and it cooked in three and half hours which is really fast and that was the best part!! Thank you so much for sharing your best turkey recipe!
Sincerely, Kaitlyn W. 11/20/11
- Hello, I want to thank you so much for the perfect recipe to cook a turkey. I have cooked many turkeys over the years and sometimes its fine and other times it over done.
I purchased my 13 lb fresh brine turkey from Trader Joe's and the following day I cooked it. I followed your directions almost to the letter, except I didn't have a roasting pan with the lid, so I used a roasting pan w/o a lid and no cover. Used dry seasonings vs. fresh.
Started out breast down and the last 1.5 hours breast up to brown it.
It was absolutely perfect!
I did purchase a meat thermometer which helped and I assumed my oven was the right temp as it's quite new, but figured it couldn't be off too much and I tested the meat temp at the halfway point and again every 30-minutes, just in case.
Thank you again for helping me make the perfect turkey and look forward to many future years of wonderful turkeys.
Not sure what happened to the others that it didn't work for, maybe not thawed all the way. Fortunately for me, I wasn't trying to coordinate the timing for a meal. However, if I was, I would make sure the turkey was done way before dinner and would heat up the meat when I was ready to serve. I wish you and your readers all the best and Happy Holidays! Julie P. 11/20/11
- Thank you for this recipe. I've been following it for at least 5 years now, and always get comments that it is the best turkey they've ever had. I do have 1 thing I've done differently for the past 2 years, and my family says it has made it even better. I follow your instructions perfectly, but then I add a beer (any brand) to the pan just before it goes in, and it just adds that extra juiciness and some special flavor. Just wanted to share. Aloha from Hawaii & Happy Thanksgiving! Malisa, 11/23/11.
- I bet a lot of people don't know that you're supposed to let the Turkey approach room temp before placing it in the oven. It's so basic that I bet you do it without even realizing that it's an actual step. I usually leave the turkey out for about a half hour before putting it in the oven. That's coming out of the fridge completely thawed. It still needs to sit out for a little. This makes a huge difference. (40 degree bird vs. 60 degree bird) Hope this helps alleviate the spoiled Thanksgiving comments. Ryan 11/23/11
Comment: Thanks, Ryan. I added this step to the instructions.
- I liked your website discussing how to cook a turkey. I also read some of the unexplained turkey disaster emails, most of which seemed to be complaining of under-cooked meat. As a 'home' cook and an engineer I found these emails intriguing.
Computer modeling could, in theory, be used to calculate the cook time and desired internal temperature of a turkey, or any other object that has mass for that matter. Unfortunately there are too many variables to perform this model effectively for a turkey, such as the shape of the bird, the density of the meat, etc. It's just not worth the scientific effort so to speak. The model would calculate the rate of heat transfer through the meat which would yield an accurate cooking time and temperature. But as I said, there are too many variables to make modeling practical for a home scenario.
I see on your website that you do take into account several variables. There are a couple of additional things that you could consider which may help to deliver more consistent results.
Internal Temperature: What is the internal temperature of the turkey before cooking? A bird may be 70F on the surface and still read 32F in the center. The heat transfer function is not linear but if we assume it is for a moment you can see that if you start with a 20 lb turkey at 70F internal temperature it would take 6.7 hours to reach 170F (100F rise at 15F/hr). If you started with an identical bird that had an internal temperature of 50F and cooked for 6.7 hours, the internal temperature would be 150F. So it is important to know the internal temperature before cooking. Tomorrow I will be cooking a turkey and will monitor the internal temperature of the leg and the breast over time to determine the non-linearity of the temperature rise. If you like I will send my results to you.
Assuming no internal stuffing. Another variable is the internal cavity of the bird. If this cavity is well sealed there is less heat transfer to the center of mass through the cavity than would be transferred if the cavity were left open as the internal closed-cavity temperature would take longer to reach the same temperature of the oven which is transferring heat form the outside to the inside of the bird. It would be interesting to cook a turkey with the internal cavity opened. This would obviously cook the bird faster than a closed cavity.
Anyway, enough of this engineering stuff, cooking is an art and those people who complain that your turkey recipe failed them should consider that fact. It's equivalent to me saying that the Picasso painting I copied did not turn out as good as Picasso's original, so there must be something wrong with Picasso's method!
Thanks, Neil H. 11/23/11
- I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe. I've used it for four years now (and after finding out how easy it was, i've used it WAY MORE than just 4 times) I just looked back to check the temperature you suggested and figured I'd write a quick note to say thanks. My family dinner is usually miserable and so my friends and I have gotten together for the past 6 years on sunday for a Post Traumatic Turkey Day Feast. For the past four years i've made the turkey using your recipe. We have all enjoyed it since then and as the host I've seen the numbers attending grow! Thank you so much for debunking the mystery and giving just a simple easy to follow method. I'll continue to use it EVERY TIME I prepare a turkey! Nicholas R., 11/24/11
- Just tried your recipe for cooking a turkey and I must say this is the juiciest turkey I have ever had. Thank you for the advice. Greg T, 11/24/11
- I was designated to cook the turkey one year for my family and knowing I didnt know how to cook one I got online and searched "how to cook a turkey", I found your website, and, before doing anything at all, I read everything, then read it again step by step as I was doing it (measure twice, cut once). needless to say it turned out great and everyone loved it, and I still use this method every year (the turkey is in the oven now).Iwill try to take a picture when its done and send it. thanks for the great website and the great tasting turkeys I get from reading it! Steven M., 11/24/11
- Thank God I found the site again this morning!
My young daughter enjoyed reminding me yesterday, "Remember last year when the turkey caught on fire?!"
I do remember.
A week later I looked up your page and made the best turkey of my life. Too bad all the guests had gone home. So, procrastinator that I am, I waited around until this morning to try to figure out how to turn this 12 lb piece of meat into something moist and yummy. I awoke slightly panicked but a quick Google search and the blessings of a benevolent God pulled me right to you and your advice.
Turkey's in at 475 and now I'm going to have some breakfast. YAY!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Lelia H., 11/24/11