The Right Temperature to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey
Listen, there's more than one way to skin a cat. And when it comes to roasting your Thanksgiving turkey, there are different ways to do it. You should pick a method for roasting your turkey based on what you're most comfortable with.
The Slow-and-Steady Method: 325°F
If your Thanksgiving preparations include actual running in your kitchen or moderate levels of anxiety, then this is the method for you. It requires the least from the cook, because you throw the turkey in the oven at 325°F and don't adjust the temperature for the duration of the roast. The time it will take depends on how large your turkey is, but the end goal is the same: a temperature reading of 155°F when a meat thermometer is inserted in the thickest portion of the turkey breast. This method is simple and roasts the bird slowly, which gently cooks the meat but tends to dry out the bird a little more than the other method. Be sure to brush the bird with olive oil or a butter-and-herb mixture every 20 minutes to help retain moisture and deepen the color of the skin.
The Professional Method: 425°F, then 350°F
This method requires a little more attention, but it pays off in the end. Compared to the other method mentioned, this cooking process is faster and creates a crispy golden exterior and a tender meat that naturally retains more of its moisture. Begin by roasting your turkey at 425°F for 40 to 45 minutes before lowering the temperature of the oven to 350°F for the rest of the cook time. Like the other method, it's a good idea to brush the turkey every 15 to 20 minutes with butter or olive oil to help the surface brown and keep the meat moist.
WATCH: How To Carve A Turkey
A Few Additional Tips
Over time, most ovens are unable to maintain the same temperature throughout. Therefore, it's important to rotate the turkey's roasting pan every 30 minutes to make sure the bird cooks evenly. Also, it is critical to allow your turkey to rest for 30 minutes to an hour after it's taken out of the oven. The meat continues to rise in temperature after the turkey is removed, and this time also keeps the hot juices and delicious flavor compounds from flooding out of the meat and onto the carving platter the moment you cut into the bird.