How to Cook a Turkey like a Pro – with Video

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.

6 Steps to Cooking a great Thanksgiving Turkey

Print the Directions for Cooking a Turkey Here

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

Cooking a turkey at Thanksgiving 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.

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. These 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.

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.

How to Cook a Turkey: Step 1 — The Bath   

A raw turkey defrosting in salt water bath in a black kitchen sink.
A frozen turkey can be quickly and safely defrosted overnight in a brine water-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.

How to Cook a Turkey: Step 2 — 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.

How to Cook a Turkey: Step 3 — Get Stuffed   

You don’t have to stuff the bird. The stuffing tastes better if you do, but the bird takes 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 apart from the turkey in the oven.

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

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.

How to Cook a Turkey: Step 3 — Get Stuffed   

You don’t have to stuff the bird. The stuffing tastes better if you do, but the bird takes 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 apart from the turkey in the oven.

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

Please Share If This Helped You!

6 thoughts on “How to Cook a Turkey like a Pro – with Video

  1. Michelle Dixon

    I made our turkey this year following your instructions. My family said it’s the best turkey I ever made. I’ve been cooking and baking for over 40 years so this is a big compliment. Thank you!

  2. Tisha

    Annette
    Do you use a formula for how long to cook the turkey at 350 after it’s seared? Turkeys come in different sizes and I was just wondering. Can’t wait to try this.

    1. Steve Economides

      Annette cooks each turkey for about the same time – 4 hours. But she usually always cook a 20 pound or larger turkey. You could use a meat thermometer – and pull it out when the internal temperature reaches about 180 degrees f.

  3. Debbie Christie

    I was so thankful for this recipe! I had intended to use a different recipe, but the night before Thanksgiving, I realized that my bird was still quite frozen, even though it had been defrosting for 3 days in the fridge!!! I’d remembered reading this recipe, and let me tell you, it was a life saver, and delicious! Our kitchen sink drainer wouldn’t stop leaking, so we used a very large stainless steal bowl and a clean kitchen towel, and it worked like a charm. I panicked a little when I wasn’t sure whether or not to rinse the bird after the salt bath, but I didn’t, and it didn’t taste salty.

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