Buying | Defrosting | Turkey Preparation | Brining | Stuffing | Cooking Times | Gravy 
Part 2 - Step by step instructions | Turkey Leftovers

















Buying: Fresh vs. Frozen Turkey
A fresh turkey may be a little more expensive than a frozen turkey due to the strict guidelines needed throughout the transportation from processor to consumer. Fresh turkeys are required to be chilled to a temperature of no lower that 26*F, the temperature that the turkey starts to freeze, and maintained until it reaches the store. When it is at this temperature, it could be mistaken for frozen because the bird is quite stiff on the surface. The store is required to keep the refrigerated cases in the 38*F to 40*F range. Its best to purchase a fresh turkey no more than 1 or 2 days prior to cooking.
The freshness of a frozen turkey is practically identical to a fresh turkey due to the flash freezing process. The turkey will start to freeze at 26*F, so it is flash frozen to 0*F or lower, and this will maintain the freshness quality. A turkey properly frozen this way can be safely eaten up to a year from when it was frozen. A fresh turkey frozen in a home freezer will not meet these standards. The time it takes a home freezer to freeze is too long and the bird will start to deteriorate faster

The truly only safe way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator. It should be kept in its original wrapper with a drip tray to catch any juices that may leak. Thawing a bird will take several days so a plan should be in place to account for this time. Normally, 24 hours for every 5-lbs should be allowed in a refrigerator that has a temperature of no more than 40*F. This 40*F temperature is cold enough to prevent the growth of bacteria.
The old method of defrosting in cold water is generally no longer accepted due to the awareness of bacteria. However, if it must be done due to time constraints, there are a few things that will lower the risks.
* Keep the bird in its original wrap. If it has a tear or puncture, make sure to re-wrap in another plastic bag and seal
* Place the turkey breast side down in the water and completely cover with water.
* The water should be changed every 30 minutes with fresh cold water

Fridge Defrosting Times Water Thawing Times
8 to12-lbs...2-3 days 8 to12-lbs...4-6 hours
13 to16-lbs...3-4 days 13 to 16-lbs...6-8 hours
17 to 20-lbs...4-5 days 17 to 20-lbs...8-10 hours
21 to 24-lbs...5-6 days 21 to 24-lbs...10-12 hours

All times are estimated. These will change with the temperature of the fridge.

Turkey Preparation:
The neck and giblets are usually found inside the body cavity. These can be discarded or washed with cold water and patted dry with a paper towel to be used for a turkey stock. In a saucepan add the neck, giblets (except the liver), 1/2-tsp salt, a halved small onion and a few celery leaves, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour, skimming the foam off occasionally.
Prior to stuffing the bird, the entire turkey should be washed inside and out with cold water and patted dry with paper towels

Brining is a method of producing a juicer and more flavourful bird. The process calls for the turkey to be soaked in a salt and water solution, with sugar and other seasonings added to enhance flavour. Make sure that if you are going to brine a turkey, that it isn't a pre-basted bird. Brining a pre-basted bird will be overly salty and possibly soggy. Brining will take 8-12 hours so preparation must be taken well in advance, especially if you use a frozen turkey. Brining a turkey is easier if left for small turkeys.
We found that brining a turkey affects the flavour of the cooked stuffing. The juices tend to stay in the meat and won't transfer as much to the stuffing, causing a little drier and less flavourfull stuffing.


for our basic recipe
CLICK for another recipe using focaccia bread

  • Stuffing should be cooked to a temperature of 165*F
  • 3/4-cup of stuffing per pound of turkey
  • Never stuff a turkey in advance of cooking This may promote the rapid growth of harmful bacteria
  • Remove the stuffing before carving

Cooking Times:

In a 325*F oven




8 to12-lbs

2 to 3 hours

3 to 3 - hours

12 to14-lbs

3 to 3 hours

3 to 4 hours

14 to 18-lbs

3 to 4 hours

4 to 4 hours

18 to 20-lbs

4 to 4 hours

4 to 4 hours

20 to 24-lbs

4 to 5 hours

4 3/4- to 5 hours

24 to 30-lbs

5 to 5 hours

5 to 6 hours

  • Dark roasting pans cook faster than light ones

  • A foil tent slows the cooking time

  • A stuffed turkey requires more time than an unstuffed turkey

  • A cooking bag will speed up cooking time

  • A partially frozen turkey requires more time

  • A meat thermometer is the only reliable gauge for checking doneness

CLICK for our turkey gravy recipe

 Go to Part 2 (Step by step instructions) 


Buying | Defrosting | Turkey Preparation | Brining | Stuffing | Cooking Times | Gravy 
Part 2 - Step by step instructions | Turkey Leftovers