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How to Cook a Turkey : Best Whole Turkey Recipe

Updated on October 18, 2017
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Nyesha loves writing about various topics on HubPages including cooking/recipes, restaurant reviews, movie reviews, weddings, and poetry.

Cooked turkey


Raw turkey prepped for cooking

How to cook a turkey

Would you like to learn how to cook a turkey? Do you usually feel intimidated when you see big slabs of raw meat such as pot roast in the supermarket and additionally feel that way when you see large whole raw chickens and whole raw turkeys often weighing over 12 pounds? Go ahead and pick a whole raw turkey up and take it home. The task of cooking a whole turkey is not as daunting as you might think.

This hub will discuss a step by step method to cook a turkey. This recipe for how to cook a whole turkey is not too challenging and the results are very tasty.

For moist and delicious turkey, you will even be using butter. Please read on to learn more.:

Many people cook turkeys several times a year, especially to serve a large family. A whole turkey on a large platter makes a nice center piece for a family gathering where several different types of food are served on the table.

I first wrote this hub on HubPages a while back. Now, as I edit it I can tell you a couple of anecdotes. First, while listening to talk radio this past November, in the days nearing Thanksgiving, a woman from the how to cook a turkey hotline was being interviewed. If I recall correctly, I believe she was working for the poultry company Perdue. Both she and the dj chatted comically as if there is some hilarity in the need for such a job position. Nevertheless, all joking aside, there is merit in her work as people who find cooking a turkey daunting or are cooking a turkey for the first time can call her for assistance to cook such a large bird safely. She spoke on many of the response she gives to typical questions that are posed such as questions about the thawing process and avoiding the bacterial contamination that can occur from handling raw meat.

Additionally, one always has to think of fire safety. For example, I have never deep fried a turkey but I have tasted one prepared in a restaurant and deep fried turkey is indeed delicious, so much so that it has widely gained popularity over the years and many people who are not professional chefs/ cooks have attempted to deep fry turkey at home. They are warned to be cautious about this as it can be dangerous and tragedy can occur.

Secondly, even for individuals who learn to cook at an early age as a child, tween or teenager, they might find that for something like the Thanksgiving turkey, an adult in the household always took charge of cooking it. Perhaps they were given other chores such as preparing a side dish or helping to clean for the arrival of dinner guests while a parent or guardian handled the cooking of the turkey. Sometimes an individual is not cooking his or her first turkey until full fledged adulthood.

This same past November, I was chatting with a thirty something year old friend that was cooking a turkey for the first time and was speaking of the challenge like it was a rite of passage as she planned to prepare a delicious Thanksgiving meal for the family (spouse and children) she now has. If you are a big foodie and enjoy cooking like me, I would agree that cooking your first turkey does feel a bit momentous doesn't it? (smile)

A single friend that I spoke to on the phone across the country was not going to be having any guests and was not planning to cook a whole turkey for just herself but rather she decided to cook a small portion turkey thigh that she was able to find at the supermarket.

Remember, that with turkey, you can have leftovers to last a very long time, perhaps needing to freeze some. So if you are cooking a whole turkey for just yourself, you can buy a smaller turkey of the lowest weight you can find and plan what you would like to do with the leftovers. This might include turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey casserole and more.

Sometimes, I will cook a turkey on New Year's day and other occasions but when Thanksgiving is coming, you know it's turkey time! Here is the easy to follow recipe (minimal ingredients and easy on the budget) for cooking your own homemade whole turkey for beautiful presentation and carving at your Thanksgiving table.

Instructions for how to cook a turkey

1. Wash your turkey well with water, inside and out, removing all giblets.

2. Generously apply dry seasoning, rubbing on the inside and outside of the turkey. Spices should include a teaspoon each of black pepper, salt, paprika, oregano, parsley, garlic and ginger.

The cooking process for a turkey

3. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit to get under the skin of the turkey. Sprinkle a few of the seasonings and place a large pat of sweet cream butter under the skin of the turkey. This is illustrated in the photos above. Notice how the pat of butter is protruding from under the turkey skin. It will melt during the cooking process.

4. Place the whole turkey in a deep roasting pan with 1.5 cups of water.

5. Place the pan in a preheated oven at 425 degrees.

6. After 25 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and insert generous spoonfuls of prepared stuffing into the cavity of the turkey.

7. Place the turkey in its pan back in the oven and continue cooking for 4 hours, reducing heat to 375. You can remove the pan once per hour of cooking time to pick up turkey drippings surrounding the bird with a spoon and pour it back on top of the bird. This continued basting process will help to keep the turkey moist and tender.

  • Four hours (for a twelve or thirteen pound bird) is a long process for cooking a turkey but you won't regret it.
  • Your turkey will be moist and delicious, very well cooked and not at all dry.
  • While the turkey is in the oven, you can be preparing other dishes as well.

Thanksgiving turkey dinner

a delicious and filling plate of turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing and rice.
a delicious and filling plate of turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing and rice.

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