Is It Worth It To Cook a Practice Turkey Before Hosting Your First Thanksgiving?

published Nov 20, 2014
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Do you remember how you felt the first time you hosted Thanksgiving dinner? Were you nervous? Excited? Perhaps none of the above?

This year my friend Meghan is hosting her first Thanksgiving dinner. Despite hosting other holidays and dinner parties, she confided in me that she’s nervous about this one, and feeling some added pressure. Her nerves are coming from one place — the turkey. So, to help calm her nerves and prepare for the big day, she did a dry run and cooked a practice turkey.

Thanksgiving dinner is a totally different ballgame than any other holiday. While the day itself carries many different meanings, the main focus of dinner rests with the turkey. All eyes are on the turkey, it’s the star of the table. And, expectations run high for pieces of tender, juicy meat and crispy skin.

Even for someone who knows their way around the kitchen, it can be a little nerve-wracking to cook your first turkey on such an important day.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Remember, a turkey is just like a chicken, only larger.

Yes, they’re two completely different birds, but the method for cooking them is essentially the same. If you’ve ever roasted a chicken, and even if you haven’t, you can definitely manage roasting a turkey. It’s not much different. The biggest difference is simply that it’s a bigger bird, requires a larger pan and takes longer to cook.

For years, even Faith had a hard time wrapping her head around roasting a turkey. But once she finally did it, she realized it wasn’t actually a big deal. “I was silly to avoid it for so long. It’s just an overgrown chicken, people. You don’t need to be afraid of it.”

Is cooking a practice turkey really worth it?

Even though she roasted her bird a little too long the first time around, Meghan was actually the first to say that cooking a practice turkey isn’t necessary. It did boost her confidence quite a bit, though.

We couldn’t agree with her more!

If cooking a practice turkey will help you feel more confident, then we say go for it. Find a small ten to twelve pound turkey, or even a large whole chicken, and put your turkey-cooking skills to the test, before Thanksgiving rolls around.

This extra turkey shouldn’t go to waste, too; use the carcass to make stock for your Thanksgiving Day gravy and stuffing; fold the meat itself into your dishes, and freeze any extra shredded extra meat for meals later in the winter.

More Tips for Cooking a Turkey

Have you ever done a practice run for holiday dinner? Was it helpful?