"Do I need to use a roasting rack to roast a turkey?"

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Tricks to Cooking the Perfect Turkey

  1. Brine it. I prefer the wet brine method but a dry brine will work too.
  2. Don’t cook a whole turkey. The leg and breast meat doesn’t cook at the same rate. There is no need to forgo the tasty leg meat, but asking your butcher to remove and bone the legs is your best bet. You can then cook the legs separately.
  3. Don’t buy a massive turkey. Even if you have massive crowds to feed, you will ultimately be better off cooking 2 or more smaller turkeys. Cooking a massive turkey through properly whilst keeping it moist is an exercise in futility.
  4. Buy the best bird you can afford. Here in the UK that is going to be something like a Kelly Bronze. You will taste the difference. You can make a cheap bird from the supermarket freezer taste good, but it will never be A-mazing like a great free range bird.
  5. Do not be butter shy. Butter is your best friend. A roast turkey is not a time for slimming recipes. I don’t go in for excessive basting but I do start with a really good layer of flavoured butter under the skin. Plus your gravy will taste extra fabulous.
  6. Bring the turkey to room temp before cooking. This will take 1 to 2 hours depending on the size of your bird and how cold your room is. The oven heat will take much longer to cook the middle of the bird if it starts out cold. This goes for all meat that you’re cooking.
  7. Do not panic and roast the bird for too long. Once the juices run clear, its cooked. Do not give it extra time in the oven “for luck” or any other reason. Get that bird out.
  8. Rest the turkey properly. Your turkey can sit well covered for anything up to 2 hours. You must give it a minimum of 45 minutes. This allows everything to properly relax. Plus it frees up the oven to finish the roasties and make the yorkshires.

And thats it. No real magic or trickery!

Prepara Silicone Meat Rack

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The Prepara Silicone Meat Rack is a really interesting twist on a roasting rack. It’s made from heat-resistant silicon. And it looks like something Julius Caesar would wear.

What makes this rack so awesome is its flexibility. It’ll fit any roasting tray, pan, dish, or oven you have.

And you can cook much more than just a bird on it! It’s good for roasting veggies, fish and even that delish beef roast. You can also use it in your microwave, pressure cooker and slow cooker.

Thinking of adding roasted squash? I found the best butternut squash peelers.

If you’ve checked out the picture and you’re wondering…

“How do you use this thing?”

It’s easy-as-pie to use…

Pick your roasting pan, place the Prepara meat rack into the pan and pop your bird on top. Because this roasting rack is so flexible, it molds into the most effective shape for your pan.

Whatever the shape, round, square, rectangular, this rack will fit snugly.

Not only that…because it’s adjustable, it’ll evenly cook any size turkey.

The silicon is BPA-free, so don’t worry about any toxins seeping into your food. It’s also rated to handle 500 degrees F.

Because it’s all silicon, nothing will stick to it. This is great if you hand wash your dishes. There are no more grubby pieces for you to scrub off after you’re left to clean up the dirty dishes.

And if you’re the dishwasher kind of cook, you’ll like the fact that this rack is safe to pop in your dishwasher too.

You can probably tell, I’m super impressed with this rack. And it’s hard for me to find fault with it. But, nothing in life is perfect.

So it’s worth mentioning that the area of the turkey touching the silicon will brown slower than the rest of the bird.

But, it won’t be raw. And it’s on the underside of the bird. so no one is going to see it. So this isn’t a dealbreaker for me.

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How often should I baste my turkey?

Basting is optional when roasting a turkey. To ensure a moist turkey, the key is to not overcook it. Try using a remote digital thermometer that will alert you when the turkey is fully cooked yet still juicy. If you choose to baste the bird, do so every 30 minutes.

What About Turkey Gravy?

Don’t discard those turkey drippings in the roasting pan! Use them to make turkey gravy, I like this kind or this simpler type.

Is Trussing Necessary?

No, trussing with kitchen twine is not a must. In fact some chefs recommend skipping it so air circulates more evenly around turkey thighs (rather than them being pressed up against the breasts) and it cooks more evenly. If you are going for the look of it then truss, if not, it’s not necessary.

How long does it take to cook 7 pound turkey breast?

Roasting times for a turkey breast cooked in a 325 degrees F oven: Unstuffed, a 2 to 3-pound turkey will cook from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Unstuffed, a 7 to 8-pound turkey will cook from 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours; if stuffed, it will cook in 3 to 4 hours.

How Long Does It Take to Cook a Turkey In the Oven?

The amount of time needed to cook a whole turkey is dependent on the weight of the bird and whether it will be stuffed or not. Using a 325 F oven, calculate 15 to 20 minutes per pound, adding 30 minutes to the total time if the turkey is stuffed. But more important than the time is the turkey’s internal temperature; it needs to reach 165 F to be safe to eat. Using an internal meat thermometer and placing it in the thickest part of the thigh (making sure it doesn’t touch bone) is the ideal way to determine when the turkey has finished cooking. If the turkey is stuffed, use a thermometer to check the temperature of the stuffing, which should also be at 165 F.

Gravy or Cranberry Sauce?

A big part of the Thanksgiving turkey is what you serve alongside the meat. Do you like cranberry sauce or turkey gravy? I have great recipes for both!

Fresh, tart cranberries are cooked and blended with agave, brown sugar, red wine, and pomegranate juice create a deliciously simple and smooth Red Wine Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce for your Thanksgiving feast.

If you like a chunkier cranberry topping, this Cranberry Orange Walnut Relish is a big hit! It has walnuts and golden raisins in it, tons of delicious fall flavors, and chunks of burst cranberries.

If you prefer gravy instead of cranberry sauce, don’t worry I have you covered there too. Check out my How To Make Turkey Gravy with No Lumps.

How to Brine a Turkey

Brining a turkey makes for a juicy and flavorful bird. The process requires an extra step of soaking in a salted and sometimes seasoned mixture for several hours prior to cooking. The turkey is placed in a large container, submerged in the brining liquid, and refrigerated (or put in a cold cooler). It needs to sit for one hour per pound of turkey. Before cooking, rinse off the brine; since it has been seasoned well with salt, there is no need to salt the turkey.

Warnings

  • Handle knives and other sharp kitchen tools with care.

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  • Always wear oven mitts when handling the hot pan as it comes out of the oven.

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Ready to cook!

After preparing the bird, stuff the turkey with apples, onions, and celery to keep the inside moisture, impart extra flavor, and maintain the classic plump turkey look.

Injecting it with a melted butter and herb mix is not a bad idea if you’re aiming for a super moist meat. But, it’s not essential. So don’t worry about it if you don’t have an injector on hand. See our article on the best way to smoke turkey for more details.

9. Baste or otherwise moisten the turkey

Traditional recipes call for basting the turkey every half hour to moisten and flavor the bird. Basting is a simple process that just requires opening the oven and carefully spooning (or using a turkey baster to squirt) the pan juices all over the turkey. You can add butter to the roasting pan for a richer basting solution, or have turkey broth simmering on the stove to use if the pan juices run dry. Basting will certainly help the skin brown up nicely, but opinions vary on whether the liquid actually penetrates the skin to moisten the flesh.

And remember: An open oven door lets heat escape, lowering the ambient temperature and lengthening the roasting time. For these reasons today’s cooking trends favor moistening methods that don’t require basting, such as brining the turkey before roasting, stuffing butter under the skin, or roasting the turkey breast side down (flipping halfway through cooking to get an even brown) so it self bastes.

Alternately, you can split the difference by treating the bird with a brine and/or butter mix before cooking, then basting it every once in a while—say on the hour instead of every 30 minutes—as it roasts.

How Long to Cook Your Turkey

Here’s a quick way to estimate how long it takes to cook the turkey, though note that the actual cooking time will vary depending on how cold your turkey is to start, and your individual oven. So make sure to check the turkey WELL BEFORE (at least an hour) you estimate it to be done.

Multiply the weight of your turkey by 13 minutes per pound.

  • 10-pound turkey: about 2 hours 10 minutes
  • 12-pound turkey: about 2 hours 36 minutes
  • 14-pound turkey: about 3 hours 2 minutes
  • 16-pound turkey: about 3 hours 28 minutes
  • 18-pound turkey: about 3 hours 54 minutes
  • 20-pound turkey: about 4 hours 20 minutes

Again, this is just an estimate! If your turkey is not close to room temperature when it goes in the oven, it will take longer to cook. If it is at room temp, it may take less time to cook. So, check the temperature of your bird earlier than the full cooking time.

The Best Way to Roast a Turkey? Breast Side Down

The main difference between how my mother makes her turkey and everyone else is to cook it breast side down. By cooking the turkey this way, the juices from the cooking turkey fall into the breast while the turkey cooks, resulting in the most succulent breast imaginable.

The thighs are more exposed to the heat in this method as well, which is good since dark meat takes longer to cook than white meat.

If you cook the bird breast down, the turkey skin over the breast will not brown well. If you want browning on the breast, you’ll need to turn the turkey over in the pan and to brown it in the last few minutes of cooking. We rarely bother with turning the turkey over, since we carve up the turkey in the kitchen before bringing it out, and there is plenty of crispy turkey skin on the rest of the turkey.

In the years since we first posted this recipe, we still cook our turkeys breast side down, and they're still wonderful. If the turkey is small enough, sometimes I'll flip it over near the end to get the breast side browned. But usually, like my mom, I'll just roast it the whole time breast down.

Elise Bauer

6. Stuff the neck cavity with an apple—and don’t stuff the main cavity

Sounds random, we know. But stuffing the neck cavity (not the large cavity) with a halved apple—placing the cut side against the turkey’s flesh with the rounded side facing out—helps buffer the breast against heat and protects it from overcooking. But don’t fill the main cavity with stuffing—it’ll only slow down your cooking time.

Instead, you can cook the stuffing on the side in a casserole dish. Add some stock to replace the juices the stuffing would have absorbed in the cavity. You can also sauté the turkey liver, gizzard, and neck in butter, cut them up (shredding the neck meat off the bone) and add them to your dressing for more flavor. This will make the stuffing nearly as rich as if it had been baked in the turkey itself (though don’t forget to make a meatless version if you’ve got any vegetarians on the guest list).

Cooking Times for Roasting a Turkey

Turkey WeightServesRoasting Time
10-18 lbsLess than 10 people3 – 3 1/2 hours
18-22 lbs10-15 people3 1/2 to 4 hours
22-24 lbs16-20 people4 4 1/2 hours
24-29 lbsmore than 20 people4 1/2 – 5 hours

How to Serve Roast Turkey Crown

The big question here is – do you take the whole bird to the table and carve it in some kind of laborious ceremony? Or, carve it sensibly in the kitchen and deliver it to the table where it can be served immediately whilst everything else is still hot.

I suspect that you have gathered my preference! By all means take a photo for Instagram (I certainly cannot judge) and grab some guests to come and admire your handiwork. But then carve it and get the good stuff on a plate. Cover it with foil to keep some warmth in and serve.

As you will have a nicely rested turkey by that point, don’t forget to tip any accumulated juices into the gravy. And keep the carcass/bones aside ready to make stock later.

How Much Turkey Do I Need Per Person?

How much turkey do I need for this many people? The easy answer: Plan to purchase at least 1 lb. per person attending. This allows enough turkey to enjoy on the Thanksgiving day, plus a bit for leftovers.

If you like to have plenty of leftovers for the freezer or cooking up a big batch of soup, plan on double that, about 2-2.5 lbs of turkey per person.

Flavors from around the world

No matter what household we have all grown up in, there is something that has brought us all together here and that is a love and appreciation of food. Food that is from cultures and cuisines across the world has always been a staple of the blog. I’m excited to bring you all a taste of each corner of the earth, every last bite seasoned to perfection and served up with love – from my kitchen to yours.

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