With 2022's holidays in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead to easier, tastier cooking in 2023. If your New Year's resolution involves saving time and spending more of it enjoying home-cooked meals with your family, we've got you covered with a fuss-free guide to nailing the elusive turkey cooking time.
What you'll need
Before you get started, here are a few things you'll need to thaw and cook that turkey:
Knife, carving fork, tongs or preferred carving tools
Cutting board (at least a few inches bigger than the turkey on each side)
Preferred brine, rub, seasonings and cooking oils
Timing your turkey
If you've ever had to do complex turkey-cooking math to guess how long to bake or grill a turkey, you know it can be a little more art than science. You think you've got the perfect timing and heat level for the size, weight and amount of stuffing in the bird, but somehow it still comes out undercooked or a little dry.
There's a better way: let a turkey cooking calculator do what calculators do best, and do the math for you! All you have to do is enter the weight, whether it's stuffed or unstuffed and the desired doneness, and voila, you've got your cooking time.
But what about thawing?
Thawing times are just as important as cooking times. If you cook a turkey that hasn't been thoroughly thawed, you risk leaving interior parts undercooked as the exterior gets overcooked. If you thaw too aggressively, you could be serving up your turkey with a side of bacteria.
Here are two methods for thawing your frozen turkey depending on how much time you have.
Option 1: Refrigerator
If you've got a few days' lead time before cooking, this is the safest and easiest thawing method.
Step 1: Leave the turkey in its packaging.
Step 2: Transfer the turkey to your refrigerator.
Step 3: Let the turkey thaw for 24 hours per 4-5 pounds.
Option 2: Submerge in water
A little shorter on time? Resist the temptation to leave your turkey on the counter overnight! Instead, you can submerge it in cold water (repeat: cold, not warm) for several hours instead.
Step 1: Get a container big enough to hold the turkey and a good amount of water.
Step 2: Drop the turkey into the container.
Step 3: Fill the container with cold water.
Step 4: Dump the water and replenish with fresh water every 30 minutes.
Step 5: Repeat every 30 minutes per pound of turkey.
Closing turkey-cooking tips
Ready to ring in the new year with a feast? Here are a few final considerations for ensuring your turkey cooks efficiently and deliciously:
Plan for roughly one pound of turkey per person.
Add the thawing time into your cooking plans.
Try incorporating brines and rubs.
Save those leftovers for making stock or broth!
The main point of making a giant meal is sharing it with loved ones. The less time you spend planning for your meal, the more time you have to spend with the people you're cooking for!