I’m making my first turkey this year. Because I was a little nervous about it, I’ve spent the past couple weeks preparing to roast my first turkey. I’ve read magazine articles, blog posts, and watched YouTube videos. My wife and I even attended a turkey cooking class so we would be ready.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of time left to get your turkey started, so I’m sharing some of my favorite turkey tips I’ve picked up over the past couple of weeks. Happy Thanksgiving and good luck!
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  1. Your turkey should already be defrosted, or very close to it. If you haven’t started defrosting your turkey yet, no worries! Run cold water over your turkey to help speed up the process, but this could still take a couple of hours.
  2. It’s not too late to brine your turkey! As a general rule, brine your turkey 1 hour per pound. Brining will help your turkey to absorb more moisture and also add additional flavor.
  3. The formula for a basic brine is 1 gallon of liquid to 1 cup salt, 1 cup sugar and whatever aromatics you choose (onion, garlic, thyme, oregano  etc.).
  4. Use ice as 3/4 of your brining liquid, so you don’t have to wait for your brine to cool. Since I’m making one gallon of brine, I used 3 quarts of ice to 1 quart of water.
  5. If you want crispy skin allow your turkey to air dry in the fridge for 4-6 hours after brining.
  6. Let your turkey sit out at room temp for at least one hour before cooking. This will help your turkey cook more evenly and avoid cold spots in the middle.
  7. When adding butter and herbs to your turkey, be sure to place under the skin. This will not only flavor the turkey meat, but help keep the herbs from burning.
  8. Cover your roasting pan with parchment paper before putting your turkey on the roasting rack. This will save you a lot of clean-up later.
  9. The general rule of 20 minutes per pound is ok as a guideline, but will probably lead to an over-cooked turkey. Instead rely on your thermometer. Remove your turkey from the oven when it reaches 145 degrees. Don’t eat it yet though. See tip 11 for more information!
  10. If the skin of your turkey browns too quickly cover it with tin foil with the shiny side facing out. This will help deflect some of the heat from the skin and slow the browning process.
  11. Let your turkey rest for at least 30 minutes after taking it from the oven. It will continue to cook and is ready to eat when it reaches 160 degrees. This will also allow the juices that were lost in the cooking process to be reabsorbed by the meat.

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Do you have any favorite turkey tips? Please share them in the comments.