The Foolproof Guide to Roasting a Moist Turkey

You have a family get-together coming up, and you have volunteered to roast a turkey. If you have never successfully roasted a moist turkey, there are a few tips to master before you begin. To delight your guests with a golden-brown bird that is as appealing to the eye as it is delicious, you will need to know how to choose the right turkey, how to prep it, and the trick to roasting it to perfection.

Choosing a Turkey

  • Fresh or frozen? Purchasing your bird fresh or frozen is a personal choice. Though some prefer the taste of one to the other, more than likely your choice will be based on your schedule and the date of your dinner party. If you choose to purchase a fresh bird, you must use it within a few days. Keep it refrigerated until it is ready to be cooked. Never purchase a pre-stuffed fresh turkey as any mishandling can result in bacteria quickly spreading. If you choose to purchase a frozen bird, you will need to factor in thaw time. Turkey should be thawed in the refrigerator; depending on the size, this can take anywhere from one to six days.
  • Size. How many people are you feeding? Turkeys come in different weights, from around 8 pounds to 20-plus pounds. Allow a minimum of one pound of turkey per person. A 12-pound turkey, along with all the goodies that go with it, will easily feed six to eight people.
  • Personal recommendations. It does not matter which brand of turkey you use. If you roast it properly, you will always end up with a juicy turkey. There are many different brands out there, and generally the store brand tastes as good as any other brand. You will also want to check the ingredients to be sure that there are no additives in your choice. Many turkeys now have a button that pops up to tell you when the turkey is done. The pop-up button is pretty accurate, though it's best not to rely on it solely. You should have a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature. You can purchase these at most grocery stores.

Prepping the Stuffing
Before you begin preparing your turkey, you will need to prepare your favorite recipe for stuffing. You will need approximately ¾ cup stuffing to one pound of bird. Make enough stuffing to pack the bird loosely to allow for enough cooking time. If you have extra, cook it separately. It is essential that the stuffing inside the bird reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that all harmful turkey juices have been cooked.

Prepping Your Turkey

  • Cleaning the turkey. Put the turkey in the sink and remove the plastic bag. Take the gizzards and the neck out of the cavity. Check both cavities, as most turkeys will have the neck in the neck cavity while the gizzards are in the belly cavity. Set these aside if you would like to use them to make homemade gravy. They can be used to flavor the water. Thoroughly rinse the turkey, inside and outside.
  • Roasting pan. Your roasting pan will need to have sides at least five inches high. The aluminum pans from the grocery store work well. They are disposable, so you can just drop the entire thing in the trash when you are finished with it. Place the turkey in the roasting pan.
  • Final prep. Stuff both turkey cavities with stuffing. Sprinkle salt and pepper, if desired, over the top of the whole turkey. Add a dusting of garlic powder and onion powder. If you use onion salt, do not add additional salt. Coat the turkey with about one tablespoon of softened butter. The butter helps the skin to crunch up and helps to keep the juices in the turkey, keeping the meat moist. Add about one quarter inch of water in the bottom of the pan. The water will steam inside the foil, another secret to keeping the turkey moist. This also helps to keep the stuffing moist inside the turkey.


Roasting the Turkey
Cover with foil and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes per pound at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven tends to run a bit warmer, drop the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If it runs cool, raise the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Every two hours, rub softened butter over the turkey. Be sure to use caution when uncovering the turkey, as the steam may burn your hands. Keep the foil over the turkey until the last hour. At the last hour, remove the foil, so that the top of the turkey can brown. You may rub butter over the turkey at this step if you wish. Your turkey should be roasted until it is a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the breast.

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