There are so many numbers to remember on Thanksgiving that first-time hosts might have nasty flashbacks to junior-high algebra. What temperature must the turkey reach to be safe to eat? How big a turkey should I buy? How early do I need to put the turkey in the oven? How long does it take to thaw a frozen bird?
Thankfully, there are no pop quizzes on Thanksgiving. Here's a little cheat sheet to help you remember the most essential equations. Print this out and tape it to your oven or refrigerator.
Whether you're serving a fresh or frozen turkey, you'll want to allow 1 pound per guest. Having a dinner for 10 people? Buy a 10-pound turkey. If you love turkey sandwiches, I'd go bigger, maybe 12 pounds.
Buy a fresh turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it. So, Tuesday at the earliest. Keep it stored in the refrigerator in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. You do not want raw turkey juice invading the cheese platter sitting on the shelf beneath the turkey.
To thaw a frozen turkey, allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. So, if your frozen turkey weighs 12 pounds, you need to move it from the freezer to the refrigerator on Monday. Is your bird 16 pounds? Move it to the fridge on Sunday.
You do not need to wake up before the sun to put your turkey in the oven. Well, unless you want turkey for breakfast. Here is guide for how long the turkey needs to roast. Set your oven to 325 degrees.
- 8- to 12-pound bird will need to roast for 2 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours.
- 12- to 14-pounder needs 3 hours to 3 hours and 45 minutes.
- 14- to 18-pound bird needs 3 hours and 45 minutes to 4 hours and 15 minutes.
- 18- to 20-pound bird needs 4 hours and 15 minutes to 4 hours and 30 minutes.
- 20- to 24-pounder needs 4 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours.