HOW TO: Cook a successful Thanksgiving turkey

Let’s be honest. The main dish of Thanksgiving, the turkey, can seem a bit intimidating when you’re cooking one for the first time.

The turkey is the most important part of the feast and one small mistake can ruin the dinner.

However, there is no need to fear cooking the main entrée this Thanksgiving season. These simple tips and tricks will make cooking the turkey this year easy, even for a young college student!


1 12- to 14-pound turkey, giblets removed

3 chopped carrots

1 stalk of chopped celery

2 medium yellow onions, chopped into wedges

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 navel oranges cut into wedges (optional)

1 bunch of parsley leaves from celery (optional)

1 kitchen string (optional)


1. According to American Foods, the turkey needs to be thawed in the refrigerator for one day for every 4 pounds of turkey. For example, a frozen 12-pound turkey would take three days to thaw.

2. Remove the wrapping around the turkey. Unhook the legs.

3. Reach inside the turkey and remove the neck of the bird. Find the giblet package inside the cavity and remove as well. According to eHow, you can keep the neck and giblets for a soup stock, or throw them out, it’s your choice.

4. Rinse the inside of the turkey with cold water.

5. Heat the oven to 325° F.

6. Place the carrots, celery, and onions in a roasting pan.

7. Rub the inside of the turkey cavity with salt and pepper, and any other herbs and spices.

8. Rub the outside skin with the butter or oil evenly.

9. You can also spread the butter under the skin of the breast and around the thighs to keep it juicy and moist, according to American Foods.

10. Season the outside evenly with salt and pepper.

11. According to American Foods, you have to pull the wings forward and tuck them under the breasts so they don’t burn while cooking.

12. Tie the legs together with kitchen string (optional) to keep a nicely shaped turkey.

13. You can also cover the turkey breasts with a piece of foil to keep it moist while it’s cooking. Be sure to remove the foil for the last hour of roasting.

14. Place turkey on top of the vegetables.

15. Add about a ½ inch of water to the roasting pan.

16. Roast the turkey for approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey is fully cooked. It is recommended to cook a 12- to 14-pound turkey from 3 to 3 ¾ hours.

Whew! Take a break. That was a lot of work so far … maybe a cookie break.

17. Remove the turkey when the thermometer is at 165 degrees F. in the thickest part of the thigh meat.

18. According to Real Simple Foods, the turkey needs to rest outside of the oven for at least 20-30 minutes. Don’t worry, it won’t go cold!

19. Lastly, you can garnish with orange wedges and parsley (optional) to give it a nice display, according to Real Simple Foods.

A few simple ingredients and steps is all that it takes to successfully cook a Thanksgiving turkey. It’s so easy, even college students can accomplish what seems to be a frightening task. So now you’re ready to go out and take complete charge of the main course, right?