3 Easy Tips for Cooking a Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
It’s that time of year: when we stand in front of the 20-pound Thanksgiving turkey we just bought and try to figure out a game plan (or remember last year’s). Cooking a turkey can be daunting, especially for a first-timer like Kitchn reader Elizabeth, who wrote in asking for some holiday advice.
I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, and I’m nervous I’m going to screw up the turkey. How can I turn my bird into something that’s beautiful and tasty and will impress my guests?–Elizabeth
You’ve got this, Elizabeth! The truth is it’s easy to make a juicy, delicious bird, even if you’ve never done it before. Here are three of our favorite tips for a show-stopping holiday centerpiece.
1. Don’t skip the brine.
The key to a moist and flavorful turkey starts days before you put it in the oven. Brining is a process where meat is soaked in salted water before cooking to help retain moisture. A brine’s salty water penetrates the meat for utmost deliciousness, and adding herbs and spices takes the flavor to a whole other level. The Spice Hunter Original Turkey Brine is our go-to. It has a delicious blend of dried fruit, herbs, and spices — plus its own brining bag! Follow our step-by-step brining guide here and the bird is guaranteed to be a hit.
2. Dry the skin thoroughly.
Want that deep golden brown color that Instagram dreams are made of? After the brine, thoroughly blot the skin dry and let the bird air out for a couple of hours. Rub the dry skin with butter or oil before popping it in the oven and you’ll get crispy skin worth fighting over. (Which we’re not above.)
3. Use a meat thermometer.
Especially if it’s your first time out, you might be tempted to rely on the little pop-up timer in your turkey. But it’s not the most reliable tool. Get a trusty ol’ meat thermometer and test the temp by inserting it into the thickest part of the thigh (without hitting the bone). When it reads 165°F, the bird is ready to come out.
Follow these tips and you’ll be a Thanksgiving pro in no time.