How to Cook a Turkey Like a Pro: Video & Tutorial

How to Cook a Turkey-Step by Step Directions for Saline Bath, Stuffing & Lacing, Searing & Tenting; and Cooking.

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If you want to learn how to cook a turkey that is perfect every time, learn from Annette. She is a pro and has had lots of practice over the past 35 years. Annette has cooked more than 120 turkeys. In this video, she shows you her “secret” process to defrost, stuff, sear and cook a delicious roasted turkey every time.

7 Steps to Cooking a Great Thanksgiving Turkey

Print the .pdf Directions for Cooking a Turkey Here

Cooking a turkey is a simple task if you follow these steps!

In this video, Annette shares her secret method to quickly defrost a turkey, then how to stuff it, lace it up, sear it, cook it and serve it.

A Thanksgiving turkey is one of the cheapest ways to feed your family. Even if you don’t host a group for this annual event, buying a turkey at this time of year and cooking it, will warm up your home and produce a mouth-watering aroma.

And usually, the price of a frozen turkey around thanksgiving time is as cheap or cheaper than most chicken prices.

What Sized Turkey Do You Cook?

A Thanksgiving Turkey will also provide inexpensive poultry meat which can be incorporated into a number of other delicious meals. We always buy the largest turkeys we can find — 22 to 26 pounds.

This sized turkey will provide the most excess meat to be used for other meals.

It’s just as much work to cook a 12-pound turkey as it is to cook a 22-pound turkey.

Frozen or Fresh Turkey?

We know that some people swear by fresh (unfrozen) turkeys, but when you compare price, convenience and the ability to stock up for the future, the frozen turkey wins every time.

7 Steps to Cook a Turkey Like A Pro

  1. Step 1: Defrosting the Turkey – Salt Water Brine Bath



    The night before Annette cooks a turkey, she fills our deep kitchen sink with cold water and adds one cup of salt.

    She unwraps the bird and places it in the water, then covers it with a clean towel to keep the top moist.

    Using this method, a 24-pound bird is defrosted in about ten hours. A raw turkey defrosting in salt water bath in a black kitchen sink.

  2. Step 2: Putting the Turkey Into the Pan

    When the turkey is defrosted, remove all gizzards and the neck.

    Be sure to check both neck and body cavities. Annette cooks up the gizzards to add to the dogs’ food, with lots of garlic powder.

    Our large dogs love them, but Annette can’t handle eating them. She cooks the bird in a rectangular, black enamel roasting pan.

    We have several of these, which we’ve found at thrift stores over the past few years.

    These pans also work great for lasagna, but that’s for a different holiday.

    The disposable aluminum pans will work fine for a smaller bird but are dangerously flimsy when carrying a larger one.

  3. Step 3: Stuffing the Turkey

    You don’t have to stuff the bird, but stuffing tastes better if you do. Just know that a stuffed turkey does take longer to cook.

    We do stuff our Thanksgiving turkey, but other times during the year when we cook a turkey, we don’t.

    Stuffing can be cooked separate from the turkey and served as a side dish.

    While making your stuffing, also prepare a basting solution for the turkey.



    RELATED ARTICLE: Best Turkey Stuffing Recipes



    Turkey Basting Solution:

    In a large bowl or 8 cup measuring cup with a handle, mix four cups of water and four chicken bouillon cubes. Let it sit until the bouillon dissolves or zap it in the microwave for five minutes if you need it quickly.

    Once the stuffing is in both cavities, use plain, unwaxed dental floss and six-nine inch metal skewers to lace up the openings. If this is hard to understand, go ahead and call anyone over 60 and they’ll help you.

  4. Step 4: Searing The Turkey to Seal in the Flavor

    The first hour of cooking is dedicated to searing the turkey.

    a. Put your oven rack in its lowest position and set the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

    b. Slide the turkey and pan into the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.

    c. When the timer rings, pour 2 cups of your basting broth over the turkey and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

    d. When the timer rings again, repeat the previous step, using the remaining 2 cups of broth and put the turkey back in the oven for 20 minutes.

    If your turkey is less than 15 pounds, you’ll only need to sear for about 40 minutes.

  5. Step 5: Tenting Your Turkey with Foil


    After the searing is done, remove the bird from the oven and securely cover the entire turkey with aluminum foil.

    This creates a “tent” and retains heat to keep the bird moist while thoroughly cooking it.

    Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees, put the covered turkey in the oven and cook for the remaining time. Cook for approximately 3 hours for a 22- to 26-pound turkey.

    Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the Turkey. The USDA recommends cooking all poultry to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To be safe, we usually cook our turkey until it is around 180 degrees. It’s still moist and tender.

    See the Top Rate Meat Thermometers on Amazon (they aren’t very expensive)

    When the turkey is done, take it out of the oven and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.

  6. Step 5: Remove Stuffing and Carve the Meat


    As it is cooking, scoop out the stuffing, and transfer the broth for gravy. Carve up the meat and layer it on a beautiful platter

    A man carving a cooked turkey with a long, sharp knife and meat fork.

  7. Step 6: Making the Gravy


    a. Take the broth from the turkey pan and put it into a 4-8 quart pot.

    b. Put the pot on medium heat and bring to a boil.

    c. While the broth is heating up, add 2 Tbs. of lecithin granules to break down the fat.

    d. Add 1 tsp. of rosemary, tarragon, basil and thyme while mixing thoroughly.

    e. Thicken with cornstarch or flour.
    Put 2 Tbs. of cornstarch in a one-cup liquid measure and add enough water to
    liquefy the mixture into a thin paste — a little thinner than Elmer’s Glue.

    Slowly pour this mixture into the boiling broth while stirring.

Wrap-Up to Cooking a Turkey Like a Pro

If you follow these 7 steps and watch the video above, you’ll have one of the easiest turkey-cooking recipes out there, from frozen to cooked in about 15 hours. Served with love and gratitude, your juicy bird will boast of your culinary expertise.

Do you have a shortcut that makes cooking a turkey faster and easier? If you do, please share it in the comments below. We’d love to learn your turkey cooking secrets!

For more great Thanksgiving ideas, visit our Pinterest Page and click on our Fall-Autumn-Thanksgiving board!

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