Thanksgiving Turkey Tips for thawing, preparing and cooking your turkey

Make cooking a Thanksgiving turkey easy with these tips for thawing, preparing and cooking your turkey.

Top Tips to perfectly prepare and cook your Thanksgiving Turkey #ad

Tip #1

The biggest mistake people often make with their turkey starts with the very first step.  Frozen turkeys take a long time to thaw.  Make sure you buy your Honeysuckle White or Shady Brook Farms frozen turkey at least one week ahead of time and follow the chart below for a guideline of how long it will take for your turkey to thaw in your refrigerator set at 40• or below.  A completely thawed turkey can remain safely in your refrigerator for 1 to 2 days before cooking.  So give yourself a little leaway. Once your turkey is thawing in your refrigerator, cross of step one of turkey preparation.

How long it takes to thaw a frozen turkey chart #ad


Tip #2

Now that your turkey is properly thawed.  What do you do with it?

Tips to prepare your turkey to get crispy skin and perfectly cooked turkey



Place your turkey on a plastic board and pat dry with paper towels.  Next you want to separate the skin from the meat.  Starting at the next of the turkey, use your index finger to gently push between the skin and the meat moving it from side to side down each breast.  If you can reach without tearing the skin, move down to the thighs and legs.  Mix up some butter or Greek yogurt with spices to put between the skin and meat to flavor your turkey.  Check out my recipe for Thyme, Rosemary and Yogurt Turkey Breast  or Sangria Glazed Turkey recipes for complete instructions. You can also use a buttered piece of cheesecloth over the turkey until the last 30 minutes of cooking.  Remove the cheesecloth to allow the turkey to crisp.  Place a rack inside your roasting pan and get ready for Tip #3.

Tip #3

Tip to cook a Thanksgiving turkey #ad

Place your turkey on a rack inside a roasting pan.  The rack lifts the turkey and allows air to circulate under the bird, thus creating crispy skin all around the turkey.  Cook your Shady Brook Farms or Honeysuckle White Turkey at an oven preheated to 400•.  Cook your turkey until the internal temperature of the thigh and thickest part of the breast is 165• per the USDA. Once your turkey is cooked, set it on a cutting board and let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving it.  To carve your turkey, separate the leg and thigh from the breast first.  You can watch a step-by-step carving video at  For complete turkey how-to videos, visit

Tip #4

Have a little fun and give back to your local community this holiday season with Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle White.  This holiday take a photo with your family, friends, and of course, your perfectly cooked turkey.  Upload your #TurkeySelfie to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #TurkeySelfie to be entered to win a $500 giving card to donate to a food bank of your choice.  The contest runs November 1st through November 30th.  Visit  for more information.

Check out these Turkey recipes perfect for a large or small Thanksgiving party:

Ancho Chili Rubbed Turkey

Ancho Chili Rubbed Turkey

Turkey Roulade with Mushroom Stuffing and Blueberry Thyme Gravy

Turkey Roulade with Mushroom Stuffing and Blueberry Thyme Gravy 

Sangria Glazed Turkey

Sangria Glazed Turkey 

Thyme Rosemary Yogurt Marinated Turkey Breast

 Thyme Rosemary Yogurt Marinated Turkey Breast


  1. This is such a great guide - I only wish I'd seen it a few years ago! In our only Thanksgiving turkey attempt, we bought a frozen turkey the day before Thanksgiving - needless to say, we ended up celebrating a couple days late :)
    • Christie Daruwalla says
      Not thawing a turkey is the number one mistake people make, Alisha. At least you could enjoy it a few days later.
  2. Wonderful tips! I made the mistake of not putting my first turkey in the fridge soon enough & it was frozen solid on Thanksgiving morning, so sad!!! Sharing this ;)
  3. Great tips. (I never buy frozen turkeys because I am afraid they won't defrost in time:)Another one - don't rinse your turkey. You mention patting it dry. Some people think they should rinse poultry, but that just spreads bacteria.
  4. The perfect turkey chest sheet! Thanks so much! I am always on the verge of calling Butterball hotline and then thinking I am a failure if I have to!
  5. These are great tips! I have to confess that I run a farmers market and I am literally thinking to myself right now - "Did I actually order a turkey from one of my farmers or did I just dream it?" UH-OH! Fingers crossed. Things might get crazy tomorrow if a turkey does not show up on my doorstep... :-)
  6. Great tips! I only cook turkey once a year, and I often forget how to do it. Thank you!
  7. Tip number one is KEY! One year I completely under estimated the time it would take for a turkey to thaw. Now I always buy it fresh :) Have a wonderful feast, Christie!
  8. These are all great & essential tips for that Thanksgiving turkey! :) I also love to brine my bird the night before. Guaranteed perfectly moist turkey!
  9. Great tips Christie! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
  10. Boy are you right about tip 1 - first time I ever cooked a turkey, I got it out from the fridge that Thanksgiving morning and it was still frozen. I wanted to ugly cry so bad - I don't think we ate until 9pm that evening. Great tips all around!

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