How to Prepare a Turkey

It is once again that season when you ask yourself and others: “How to prepare a turkey this time?” We always hope to learn some new tricks and surprise our family with new and tastier Thanksgiving feast this year!

The whole process starts when we make decision of what to buy. The best thing would be to order from a butcher but not all of us can afford that luxury. Turkey is always tastier if it is not frozen, but do not worry, if you have to go with the frozen one, it is still O.K. Just buy it ahead of the time and let it thaw.

Wash the inside of the bird with cold running water, drain well, and blot dry with a few kitchen towels. Now you should season the turkey inside and outside. There is endless combination of spices that you can use. I prefer seasoning salt with black paper and minced garlic. It is good to rub it onto skin. Leave turkey in the refrigerator overnight.

Part of that process of “how to prepare a turkey” is to decide how long to bake it. Next time table may be of help to you as a guidelines but keep in mind it is very important that you take the turkey out of the fridge a good hour before you want to start cooking it, so that turkey is at room temperature when you begin.  Weight is given in kilos as well as in pounds and temperature is given in Celsius as well es Fahrenheit degrees.


Weight of bird                  Cooking time

2.25kg/5lb                           1 ½ hours

3.5kg/8lb                             1 ¾ hours

4.5kg/10lb                           2 hours

5.5kg/12lb                           2 ½ hours

6.75kg/15lb                         2 ¾ hours

7.5kg/17lb                           3 hours

9kg/20lb                               3 ½ hours

11.5kg/25lb                         4 ½ hours

If this timing looks too short to you, do not worry you are going to have perfectly cooked and juicy meat. Just make sure that the turkey is at room temperature before you put it in the oven, it is very important! People have tendency to overcook turkey which results in dryness of the meat.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Rub the turkey breast with a little butter. Put the turkey breast-down in the roasting tray, because the only fat deposits in a turkey are in the back and this allows them to pass through the breast meat as it cooks. This way the breast squishes down a bit, but you get more tender and succulent meat. You sacrifice little bit of aesthetic for higher quality.

Keep the oven at 200C/400F for the first 30 minutes, and then turn it down to 180C/350F. Continue to bake and turn the turkey the right way up for the last half hour of cooking to brown.  To check if the turkey is ready, poke a skewer or fork where the meat is thickest – behind the knee joint of the thigh – and if it is cooked, the juices will run clear.

Cover turkey with the foil and let it seat for an hour away from an open window. It will be easier to carve.

How to Prepare a Turkey - How to A to Z

Next time when you want to find out how to prepare a turkey, please bookmark this page. Turkey feast is good not only for Thanksgiving, but for Christmas, Easter or any other time you have family and friends for a nice diner!

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