Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
Many years ago, I couldn’t wait to make my first turkey. My mother hosts our real Thanksgiving Day meal, but my husband and I have been cooking our own turkey for years now a few days before or after the big day. Why? We love Thanksgiving leftovers!
The problem was, although turkey is relatively “easy” to cook, it is also very easy to mess up and dry out! We all remember that scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation right? Beautiful bird that is so dry it deflates?
So my husband and I went on the hunt for the BEST turkey recipe. At this same time, we were watching an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats and problem solved!
- In your bucket or cooler, add your turkey (after removing all of the innards and washing it off).
- Then add 1 cup of kosher salt, 1 gallon of stock (I use a mix of chicken and vegetable since I make my own), 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1 gallon of iced water (we add lots of ice as well).
- Cover the top with a towel or saran wrap and let it sit in a cool place for anywhere from 8-16 hours.
Now it’s time to cook!
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (yes, very hot!!!)
- Add any aromatics you might like to the bird’s cavity – we usually do rosemary, onion, and thyme.
- Coat the skin of the turkey very liberally with canola oil.
- On the lowest level of your oven, roast the bird for 30 minutes.
- Lower the heat to 350 degrees and cook until your turkey reaches 161 degrees.
- Let your turkey rest, covered with tin foil before it is time to carve.
- You may be inclined to let it cook longer, but DO NOT! This part is crucial and where most people will ruin their bird. As your turkey rests, it will continue to cook inside and reach a desired temperature.
Of course, you can save all of that beautiful stock to make gravy (which I have never succeeded in doing, so I have no advice there).
I’m using a Butterball turkey. Butterball is the largest producer of turkey products in the U.S. – producing more than 1 billion pounds of turkey each year, for over 60 years!
Whether this is your first or twenty first Thanksgiving cooking a turkey, you could always find yourself in need of help on the big day! Butterball created one of the first national, toll-free consumer help lines, the Turkey Talk-Line and since it’s first season in November 1981, they have helped over 50 million consumers! Each November and December, professionally trained turkey experts assist more than 4 million cooks through the Turkey Talk-Line, Butterball.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Live Chats and emails in the United States and Canada. With more than 50 staff members, the Turkey Talk-Line has the resources to answer questions from either English- or Spanish-speaking callers, as well as respond to questions via email.
Butterball’s big news this holiday season is that they are offering 24/7 texting help the week before Thanksgiving (Nov.17–24)! Text help will be available 24/7 by texting 844-877-3456.
How else can you get help for your holiday turkey from Butterball?
- How-To Videos: The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line experts have been answering turkey questions for more than 30 years and have helped almost 50 million cooks. Now their expert knowledge is available at your fingertips day or night with fun and helpful video tips for those preparing holiday meals, available at Butterball.com or YouTube.
- Website and Mobile App: Whether you have years of experience or it’s your first time cooking the turkey, Butterball.comand the Butterball Cookbook Plus App have all the answers for your needs. Between coupon savings, trusted recipes, how-to-videos with step-by-step details and key tips for success, everything you need is easily accessible.
- Facebook and Twitter: Help is available through the Butterball Facebook and Twitter pages with tips, special savings and more.
- Pinterest: Find Thanksgiving recipe inspiration for your holiday celebration on the Butterball Pinterest page.
- Instagram: Follow Butterball on Instagram to get a behind-the-scenes look, recipe development for our Thanksgiving meal and more.
- Live Chats: Engage with turkey experts through Live Chats on Butterball.com during November and December and receive real-time suggestions and advice.
- Email: Email Butterball using this form and receive helpful tips right to your inbox.
- 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372): Turkey Talk-Line experts will be available this season starting Nov.1through Dec.24, 2016, to answer questions and assist all Thanksgiving cooks.
Butterball is giving away 2 coupons for free turkeys to my readers. Giveaway is open to US Residents, 18+, one entry per household. Giveaway ends 11/15 at 11:59p ET. Good luck!