Not Quite The Farmers Daughter

Not Quite The Farmers Daughter

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey Safety 101, Let's Have A Healthy Thanksgiving!

Food safety is important all year round.  As we head into the holidays everyone with various levels of experience is in the mind to impress family and friends.  So I thought the best way to start the week is to talk Turkey!  If you haven't started thawing your turkey you need to get that bird out of the freezer and into the fridge today.  And depending how large your bird is, you may need to prepare a cold water bath Wednesday if it is not completely thawed.  Below is a great Turkey Tool from the USDA on Turkey Safety that is great for the beginning cook and a great reminder for the pro that may be prone to distraction with a busy cooking schedule.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 

Turkey Basics: Safe Cooking

A food thermometer should be used to ensure a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F has been reached to destroy bacteria and prevent foodborne illness.

Many variables can affect the roasting time of a whole turkey:

• A partially frozen turkey

requires longer cooking.

• A stuffed turkey takes longer

to cook.

• The oven may heat food


• Temperature of the oven

may be inaccurate.

• Dark roasting pans cook

faster than shiny metals.

• The depth and size of the pan

can reduce heat circulation to

all areas of the turkey.

• The use of a foil tent for the

entire time can slow cooking.

• Use of the roasting pan’s lid

speeds cooking.

• An oven cooking bag can

accelerate cooking time.

• The rack position can have an

affect on even cooking and

heat circulation.

• A turkey or its pan may be too

large for the oven, thus

blocking heat circulation.


1. Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
Preheating is not necessary.

2. Be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Times are based on fresh or thawed birds at a refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below.

3. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.

Optional steps:

• Tuck wing tips back under

shoulders of bird (called


• Add one-half cup water to the

bottom of the pan.

• In the beginning, a tent of

aluminum foil may be placed

loosely over the breast of the

turkey for the first 1 to 1 1/2

hours, then removed for brown-

ing. Or, a tent of foil may be

placed over the turkey after the

turkey has reached the desired

golden brown color.

4. For optimum safety, cook stuffing in a casserole. If stuffing your turkey, mix ingredients just before stuffing it; stuff loosely. Additional time is required for the turkey and stuffing to reach a safe minimum internal temperature (see chart).

5. For safety and doneness, the internal temperature should be checked with a food thermometer.

The temperature of the turkey and the center of the stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. Check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

6. Let the bird stand 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving.


(325 °F oven temperature)

(time in hours)

4 to 6 lb breast........ ..1 1/2 to 2 1/4

6 to 8 lb breast....... ...2 1/4 to 3 1/4

8 to 12 lbs.......................2 3/4 to 3

12 to 14 lbs......................3 to 3 3/4

14 to 18 lbs................3 3/4 to 4 1/4

18 to 20 lbs................4 1/4 to 4 1/2

20 to 24 lbs......................4 1/2 to 5

STUFFED (time in hours)

8 to 12 lbs.......................3 to 3 1/2

12 to 14 lbs......................3 1/2 to 4

14 to 18 lbs......................4 to 4 1/4

18 to 20 lbs................4 1/4 to 4 3/4

20 to 24 lbs................4 3/4 to 5 1/4

More Ways to Cook a Turkey

For other cooking methods, read the publication "Turkey: Alternate Routes to the Table" at

Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline


For automated responses via the Internet 24 hours a day and a live chat during

Hotline hours.

Year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

Send E-mail questions to

The USDA is an equal opportunity

provider and employer.

Reviewed September 2011

FSIS encourages the reprint and distribution of this publication for food safety education purposes. However, USDA symbols or logos may not be used separately to imply endorsement of a commercial product or service.

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