The Turkey Whisperer

5 Little Tricks for Big Turkey Rewards

Our top tips for the crispiest skin and juiciest bird yet.

November 14, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

Whether it's your very first time cooking a Thanksgiving turkey or you're ready to roast your best bird yet, The Turkey Whisperer is here to help. We’ve gathered our all-time-favorite tips, tricks, and recipes to get the juices flowing—so listen closely…

Okay, we’re just over a week until the Big Day. There might be some pre-Thanksgiving loose ends to tie up. (Do I have enough pie dough? Will Aunt Sharon mind sitting next to cousin William? What if we run out of wine?) But keep your eyes on the prize—because that prize is a big, golden bird (and Thanksgiving glory).

To help you host the least stressful, most successful Thanksgiving yet, we’ve combed through the vast trove of our community’s turkey tips. Check out five of our favorites below, and if you think of other tricky questions, ask the Food52 team on our hotline—we'll be online from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST starting Sunday, poised to answer all of your kitchen queries in 10 minutes or less (though we appreciate your patience!).

Think outside the ice box.

Run out of space in your fridge? Don’t worry, you can still do a wet brine with community member Marcena’s cool trick: Simply put your turkey and brine in a gigantic zip-top bag inside of​ a cooler with ice. That way you won't run out of space for all the other foods in your spread.

The secret to the crispiest, crunchiest skin.

On the other hand, if you’re swimming in fridge space, consider Erin McDowell’s hands-off air-dry method. It’s simple and results in the most wonderful crackling skin. Just unwrap the turkey, rinse it, and pat it dry inside and out with paper towels (or rinse off the brine, if you used it). Then, park the turkey into a roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 12 hours—or even up to 48.

Learn the magic numbers.

Grab your thermometers—the turkey's internal temperature is what really matters. On our Hotline, community member ChefOno says, "The targets after resting are 165°F for the breast and 175°F for the thigh. If you're using a calibrated instant-read thermometer, you can pull the bird out at 160°F. If you're using a 'meat' thermometer, pull it out at 165°F."

Get an all-around glow.

To avoid a blistered top and pale crevices, francesca and pierino truss their turkeys’ wings close to the body and baste their birds frequently, while Sdebrango browns her turkey with a 30-minute, 450°F blast in the oven.

Take a rest.

Don’t forget to leave time for the turkey to take a break. By resting the meat, you allow the juices forced to the outside of the bird to migrate back to the center. Merrill Stubbs recommends planning for 20 to 30 minutes of rest before carving.

What are your favorite turkey tricks? Share them in the comments below!

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.

1 Comment

Am9 November 18, 2018
Who's the guy with the tats in the top photo? Trying to see them better, they look kind of cool.