Turkey tips: Tasty Thanksgiving turkey starts with knowing turkey temperature


Everyone wants to have the picture perfect Thanksgiving turkey on the table. For this episode of turkey tips, better Thanksgiving turkeys start with knowing your turkey temperatures.

Thanksgiving brings friends and family around the table. But, sometimes the less experienced cook gets overwhelmed with the enormity of an entire Thanksgiving feast. If the home cook can at least deliver a scrumptious turkey, everyone will leave the meal satisfied. The key to a delicious Thanksgiving turkey is knowing your turkey temperature.

Previously, FoodSided discussed the proper way to thaw a turkey. With your turkey ready for the oven, do you know how to determine when that turkey is done, cooked through, etc.? (Sorry, we are only covering turkeys cooked in an oven. Fried turkeys and smoke turkeys are handled differently.) If you think that the plastic pop-up gadget means that the turkey is done, please keep reading.

First, you should monitor your turkey throughout the entire cooking process. Letting a turkey cook for several hours, then opening the oven door isn’t ideal. Every time the oven door opens, the temperature in the oven drops. Uneven temperatures can cause uneven cooking.

Turkey tips, photo provided by ThermoWorks

The best way to continually monitor a turkey is with a cooking alarm thermometer. A great choice is the ChefAlarm from ThermoWorks. This cooking alarm thermometer can track the turkey’s temperature in the oven without opening the door.

With the ChefAlarm, the cook can set high and low temperatures for the cooking turkey. When the turkey gets to the high temperature point, the ChefAlarm will alert the cook. No more worrying about overcooking the Thanksgiving dinner star.

But, even the best thermometer needs to be placed correctly. A thermometer shouldn’t be shoved into the top of the turkey.

Turkey tips, Thanksgiving turkeys start with knowing turkey temperature, photo from ThermoWorkd

According to Tim Robinson, Temperature Expert for Thermoworks, a thermometer should placed “length-wise, entering from the next to the neck cavity, parallel to the roasting pan.” This placement will get track the “thermal center” of the turkey.

With the thermometer placed correctly and its constant monitoring, the home cook needs to understand what temperature is considered done. Remember a turkey isn’t completely cooked until all parts of the turkey reach a done temperature. “ThermoWorks advises that the white meat is optimal when it peaks at 165°F and dark meat at 175-185°F.”

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Another important fact to remember is that a turkey continues to cook even when it comes out of the oven. Chefs know that any protein continues to cook even when it is removed from the direct heat source. The turkey can even rise an additional 10 degrees in temperature outside of the oven.

But, don’t remove the turkey from the oven before it has reached its optimal cooking temperature. The carry over temperature concern is important to remember so that you don’t overcook the turkey. Overcooked turkey is dry, not tasty turkey.

With these few turkey tips, anyone, even the most novice chef, can successfully cook a delicious Thanksgiving turkey. Just remember turkey temperatures are the key to a delectable Thanksgiving turkey.

Next: Turkey tips: How to thaw a turkey

Do you have turkey tips for a mouthwatering Thanksgiving turkey? Share your thoughts in the comments section or tag us on social media with #FoodSided.