Essential Turkey Tips

The Test Kitchen has cooked many a turkey through the years. Here are 12 turkey cooking tips for the turkey chef in your home.


Essential Turkey Tips

To make a delicious turkey for Thanksgiving this year, follow our 12 tips for a flavorful, juicy turkey. We also give you tips for which part of the turkey is healthiest to eat and how to safely prepare your turkey.

1. Use herbs, rather than extra fat, for flavor.

2. We found conventional turkeys (with added salt solution) do stay moister but if you’re watching your sodium intake, avoid them.

3. For a golden skin, roast at high heat—475°F—for the first 45 minutes, then reduce to 350°F.

4. Leave the cavity stuffing-free. It’s safer.

5. A 3-ounce portion of light meat without skin has only 132 calories and 3 grams of fat. With the skin, that jumps to 168 calories and 6 grams of fat.

6. Dark meat is higher in calories and has more fat.

7. Three ounces of dark meat supplies 15% of the recommended daily intake of iron; white meat has only 8%

8. Turkey contains slightly less fat and cholesterol than chicken.

9. Turkey meat (and chicken) can be pink even when it’s fully cooked. Why? The bones of young birds are porous and allow red pigmentation (hemoglobin) to leach out into the meat.

10. Smoking and grilling can also make the meat pink.

11. Feeling lethargic? Don’t blame tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey. Other amino acids in the food block tryptophan’s absorption into the brain before it can make serotonin, which in turn would make you feel sleepy.

12. Still sleepy? You probably just overindulged. That’s OK. It’s Thanksgiving, after all.


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