Safety Tips for Cooking the Turkey

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FOOD SAFETY is Key

December is the busiest month of the year for those of us on the Butterball Hotline.

During the week of Christmas, we get lots of questions about how to safely cook a turkey.

Here are answers to the questions we hear most often.

How can I tell when the turkey is done?

Whether you roast, brine, deep fry or smoke your turkey, always use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat.

You won’t overcook your turkey, and you can ensure it has been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F to destroy bacteria and prevent foodborne illness. Check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. If the turkey is stuffed, the stuffing must also reach 165 °F.

turkey roasting chart with weights and cook times

How long does it take to cook a turkey?

Use the Turkey Roasting Chart above to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate and based on fresh or thawed birds at a refrigerator temperature of 40 °F or below.

Is it safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state?

Yes, the cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet package during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.

Can I cook two turkeys at the same time?

Cooking two turkeys of about the same weight does not double the roasting time. Cooking time is determined by the weight of one bird. Just make sure there is sufficient oven space for proper heat circulation.

What about storing leftovers?

  • Bacteria spread fastest at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, so chilling food safely reduces the risk of foodborne illness. Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.
  • Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days or freeze it. Use frozen turkey and stuffing leftovers within 2 to 6 months for best quality. Reheat to 165 °F or until hot and steaming. Gravy should come to a rolling boil.

Can I call the Meat & Butterball Hotline on Christmas Day?

Not only can you call 1-800-Butterball (1-800-288-8372), you can chat online and text (844-877-3456) your questions to the company.

This year you can also use your home assistant, Amazon Alexa, to pose your queries to the hotline.

plated roasted and fully dressed turkey on serving plate

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wishing You all a

‘Happy, Healthy and Turkey filled Holiday!’

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