Answers to Your Turkey Questions

Thanksgiving is a week away. Get your questions answered here.


CAN I DEFROST THE TURKEY AT ROOM TEMPERATURE? NO.

  • Keep the turkey in its original wrapper.
  • Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.
  • NOTE: A thawed turkey can stay in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before baking.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO THAW A TURKEY?

  • Check the label for the weight of your turkey and use the chart below to thaw in the refrigerator for the correct amount of time.

SHOULD I WASH THE TURKEY? NO.

  • Do not wash the turkey. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.

HOW DO I ROAST THE TURKEY?

  • Set your oven temperature no lower than 325°F.
  • Place your turkey or turkey breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
  • A whole turkey or turkey breast should be cooked to 165°F.  To check for doneness,  insert a food thermometer in the thickest part of the inner thigh without touching the bone or into the thickest part of the breast.
  • For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook stuffing separately.

DO I REALLY NEED TO USE A THERMOMETER? YES.

Turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.

CAN I NIBBLE ON LEFTOVERS? MAYBE.

  • Discard any food 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 leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

REHEATING LEFTOVERS:

  • Reheat leftovers to 165°F using a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  • To keep the meat moist, add a little broth or water and cover.


For More Information

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: (888) 674-6854

FoodSafety.gov

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