Turkey Dinner Ideas

There's a lot that goes into planning Thanksgiving dinner but don't let it intimidate you.
These turkey cooking tips, side ideas and more will help make your big feast a big success.

How much turkey per person?

Rule of thumb for whole birds or breasts is one pound per person. Add an extra half pound per person for leftovers.

TURKEY SIZE

24-28 pounds
12-14 pounds
6 pounds (bone-in breast)

SERVES

20 people
10 people
5 people

Best ways to cook a turkey

From roasting to smoking to deep frying, there are several methods to cooking the perfect turkey. Here's what you need to know to make sure your bird comes out amazing.

Roasting

Why it’s great:

In addition to bringing out traditional flavors, roasting makes it convenient for you to cook your stuffing inside the turkey. Plus, you can re-use the delicious drippings to make gravy.

What you need:

Things to know:

  • Plan accordingly. A frozen turkey that’s 5 pounds takes 24 hours to thaw in the fridge, which means 4 days for a 20-lb bird. Fresh turkeys should be purchased no more than 2 days ahead.
  • For a crispy skin, pat your turkey dry with a paper towel.
  • Do not wash the turkey before cooking. It increases the risk of contamination.
  • To help the breast cook at the same rate as the thigh, ice it for 30 minutes before roasting.
  • Baste only every 45 minutes; opening your oven too often will increase the cook time.
  • Cover the breast loosely with a foil and remove during the last 45 minutes to brown the skin.
  • To test doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and avoid touching the bone for more accurate results. It should be 165 degrees.

Tip:

No turkey rack? Prop your
bird with carrots,
celery and onions.

Tip:

Let the turkey rest at least 15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute. Or, skip the prep work and opt for a pre-cooked Member’s Mark Smoked Turkey.

Smoking

Benefits:

The beauty of smoking a turkey is that it results in rich, complex, smoky flavor. It takes longer to cook since you’re using lower temperatures. However, it’s almost impossibleto overcook.

What you need:

Things to know:

  • Your turkey should be completely thawed to ensureeven cooking.
  • Do not stuff your turkey. The low heat won’t cook your turkey thoroughly if it is filled. Instead, try cooking your stuffing in a pressure cooker, which can cook up to 70% faster!
  • Allow at least 30 minutes of cooking time per pound of meat.Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.

Deep frying

Benefits:

Deep frying is the fastest way to cook a turkey that keeps juices in and makes the skin extra crispy. However, this involves hot oil, so be careful.

What you need:

  • Turkey deep fryer
  • Meat thermometer
  • Propane tank

Things to know:

  • NEVER put a frozen turkey in a deep fryer! Make sure it’s completely thawed to avoid fire hazards and pat dry to minimize splattering.
  • Always deep fry outdoors on a flat, non-flammable surface and keep a safe distance to avoid any burns.
  • Fill the deep fryer with enough oil so that it completely submerges the turkey.
  • Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.

Tip:

If you love the flavor of a deep fried turkey,
but don’t want to deal with the hassle, go for
the Butterball Deep Fried Turkey Breast.

How to brine a turkey

Why brine? Some chefs say that this method helps your turkey lock in more juices, which makes it moist and tender. There are two ways to brine a turkey.

Wet brining

Requires soaking your turkey in salt water overnight in the refrigerator. For more flavor, you can add your favorite herbs, including bay leaves, thyme and sage.

Dry brining

Means just rubbing your turkey with salt, above and below the skin, and letting it sit in the fridge for a day.

Want a brined turkey, without the effort? Try the Honeysuckle White Frozen Boneless Turkey Breast. It comes pre-brined so you can just cook it from frozen.

Tasty twists to classic sides

If you’re looking for a tasty twist to your classics, try these
delicious ideas that’ll wow the crowd.

Mix potatoes with Gruyere, pat into
cakes and top with chives and crème fraiche.

Top the beans with
lemon and grated nutmeg.

Cut the pie into individual servings and
top with whipped cream and pumpkin spice.

In Grave(y) Danger?

Save your Thanksgiving dinner from any gravy disasters with these simple tips:

If your gravy is...

Greasy - Lay a slice of bread on top for a few seconds to absorb the fat.

Lumpy - Run it in the food processor until smooth.

Salty - Cut a raw potato into cubes, add it to your gravy and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Then remove.

Thanksgiving &
holiday recipes to
try and love.

Step up your Thanksgiving dinner
menu with recipes that’ll leave your
guests craving for more.

More inspiration to
get your party started!

See more Thanksgiving entertaining
ideas, savings and must-haves.

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