Whether this year will be your first, tenth or hundredth time cooking Thanksgiving dinner, there’s always some stress regarding the turkey. We asked the experts in Food Network Kitchens for 10 tips to ensure a juicy, crisp-skinned bird every time — carved to perfection.
Get the top turkey tips
Every year, I pull out my giant roasting pan (with fitted rack) and thus begins the annual ritual of cooking a giant turkey for Thanksgiving. What kind of turkey did I make last year? How did I cook it? Though I consider myself a fairly well-seasoned cook, learning how to cook the perfect turkey is something I take care to re-learn every year.
So, where to begin?
A few preliminary questions I always ask:
1. How big does my turkey need to be? I usually estimate about 1 pound of turkey (factoring in the carcass as part of that weight) per person.
2. What kind of turkey? Like a lot of poultry these days, there is quite a variety of turkeys (all raised in different ways, fed different foods) to choose from. You know, this is a difficult question to answer. I don’t think I have ever cooked the same turkey two years in a row. I love Heritage brand the most, but those types of birds are raised in such a way that the meat is leaner and can be slightly tough. I also love a good ol’ supermarket turkey. I say, whatever suits your personal taste.
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Just in time for Thanksgiving, we caught up with Alton Brown and chatted about his plans for the upcoming food-focused holiday.
Speaking of his Turkey Day tradition at home with his family, Alton said, “It’s really simple. Really simple. I’m not one of those guys who wants to cook for 13 hours and eat for five. So it’s very, very basic stuff.” What exactly is on his menu? “I handle the turkey. There’s some dressing. My mother-in-law makes a pecan pie. I like Brussels sprouts. And we, like, cook some sweet potatoes, and it’s done.” he said. I bet Alton makes a mean batch of Brussels sprouts.
We also talked with Alton about his Good Eats Roast Turkey (pictured above), Food Network’s most popular turkey recipe, boasting a 5-star rating and more than 3,400 user reviews.
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The turkey: It’s the star of almost every Thanksgiving dinner table. Whether you prefer dark or white meat, legs, breasts or thighs, the Thanksgiving bird is a family-favorite tradition that can be brined, fried, seasoned, stuffed, glazed, roasted and more. Our top five turkey recipes below encompass a unique mixture of classic and creative takes on this holiday classic that are fit for any Thanksgiving feast.
5. Bobby’s Black Pepper-Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Turkey — For a crispy skin that is both sweet and savory, Tyler brushes the turkey with a tangy glaze featuring pomegranate molasses, Dijon mustard and horseradish.
4. Apricot and Tequila Glazed Turkey — Marcela uses a flavor injector to add a mixture of chicken broth, melted butter and tequila directly into the turkey breasts, thighs and legs to ensure a moist, succulent bird.
Get the top three turkey recipes »
For crisper skin, unwrap the turkey the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
Need help tackling the big bird? Continue reading Food Network’s Top 10 Turkey Tips.
Find the perfect turkey for your feast, starting with our most popular ever: Alton’s Good Eats Roast Turkey, an outstanding 5-star standby. Browse our top turkey recipes.
To create a smooth, rich gravy for Thanksgiving, gradually ladle the hot broth into the flour mixture, whisking constantly (this is key, or your gravy will be lumpy). Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the gravy simmers gently.
Try making: Ina Garten’s Homemade Gravy recipe
Food Network Magazine shows you how to make the perfect gravy in seven simple steps (photos).