Your Thanksgiving Questions Answered!

There are so many questions when it comes to Thanksgiving.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that I get about Thanksgiving, in no specific order.  

Thanksgiving FAQ

What is the best method to roast a turkey?

This is a tricky question to answer, because this all comes down to personal preference.  My favorite way to have a Thanksgiving turkey is deep fried, but you can grill, smoke and brine a turkey, and they are all delicious.  The traditional roasted turkey method roasts at 325 degrees, slowly, locking in all the juices and flavor.  This time-tested method doesn’t call for any special skills, and roasts a juicy turkey every time. I like to spatchcock the turkey and cook it at 425 degrees.  This cooks the bird in about 90 minutes, and results in crispy skin, all over!

How do you keep the meat from drying out?

Most importantly, don’t over cook it!  To prevent this, invest in a probe-style thermometer and set the timer to go off when the turkey reaches 165 degrees.  Also, be sure to let the turkey rest before carving it. This is the one I have.  It’s $9 on Amazon, and works great!

Why are turkey roasting times approximate?

No matter how you decide to cook your turkey, the most important thing to remember is that the temperature of the turkey is more important than the cooking time its self.  There are a number of factors that determine how a turkey cooks:

  • The bigger the bird, the longer it takes to cook
  • The differences in oven temperatures – use an oven thermometer for an accurate oven temperature.
  • Sporadic heat loss from opening and closing the oven door.  Oven temperature changes as you open and close the door to check on the turkey, or baste. 
  • The temperature of the turkey when it goes into the oven. 

If you don’t have a probe-style thermometer, start testing your turkey about 45 minutes before the estimate “done’ time to be sure that the turkey doesn’t overcook. 

How can you tell when the turkey is done?

The best way is to use a probe-style thermometer, and set it for 165 degrees, and let the oven do its work.  The second best way is to use an instant read thermometer.  Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkeys thigh.  It should register 165 degrees.

Should I brine my turkey?

Brining is the process of soaking meat in a highly seasoned salt solution called a brine.  Through osmosis, the brine is absorbed into the meat, seasoning it from the inside out and keeping it incredibly tender.  There are two different types of brining, wet and dry.  The most common is a wet brine.  This results in a well-seasoned, juicy turkey.  However, this style brining involves a lot more work, and not everyone has a kitchen that is able to accommodate a turkey, and a container large enough to hold it, and the brine. The other method of brining, a dry brine is a little easier, but takes a little bit longer.  Dry brining involves rubbing a mixture of salt and seasonings directly onto the turkey and letting it sit in the fridge for a couple days. 

With a brined turkey, it can be tricky to make gravy.  The drippings from the turkey can be salty, and make the gravy itself too salty.  If you do decide to brine your turkey, make a turkey stock ahead of time, and use that for your gravy.

How To Brine A Turkey

Buttermilk Brine

My pie cracked!  What do I do?

It happens.  A cracked pie means that it has been over-baked.  There is a lot of advice to avoid this problem, but once it’s happened, what do you do?  Add whipped cream!!  Sometimes the best way to hide a food problem is to cover it up with something delicious enough so that no one, including you, will notice, and whipped cream is always a good choice!

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie + Homemade Whipped Cream

Why is my pie is soggy on the bottom?

Soggy bottoms can happen if you don’t blind bake first.  Blind baking means that you pre-bake the crust, sometimes covered with parchment and weighed down with pie weights, so that it sets and crisps up before you add the wet filling.  Brushing the bottom of the pie crust with a slightly beaten egg white before baking can help form a seal between the dough and the filling. 

My gravy is lumpy.  Help!

If your gravy is lumpy, just pour it through a fine mesh strainer to remove lumps and achieve the perfect texture.

My dishes won’t be ready at the same time.  Do I wait to serve everything at once?

If this happens to you, it’s probably best to serve it to your hungry and eager guests.  You can pop in the second round of dishes just as you take the turkey out since it needs to rest anyways.  As you’re carving the turkey and getting everyone settled with drinks, the dishes in the oven will catch up.  If they’re a little more delayed, just warn your guests that there are more dishes coming so they can save room and sample everything!

My turkey didn’t thaw!  Can I roast a frozen turkey?

Well, technically, yes you can roast a partially frozen turkey, but it will cook unevenly, and the skin will be soggy.  On average, a frozen turkey will take 50% longer to cook.  To cook a turkey from frozen, unwrap the bird, and place on a rack in a roasting pan.  Close the oven and cook at 350 degrees, undisturbed for 1 ½ hours.  After this time, you should be able to carefully remove the bag of giblets from the cavity.  Brush the skin with an herb butter and cover with foil.  Cook, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkeys thigh registers 165 degrees.  DO NOT DEEP FRY A FROZEN TURKEY!

My turkey is dry, what do I do?

The easiest way to revive a dried turkey is by adding fat and moisture!  In a small pot, heat 1 cup turkey stock and 2 tbsp melted butter.  Ladle this mixture onto the platter with the carved turkey.  You can also simply put the gravy on the turkey before you serve it.  Ladle a little gravy across the bottom of the platter, place the carved turkey on top and finishing by ladling more gravy over the top of the turkey!  Serve with extra gravy on the side.

What size turkey should I buy?

When buying a Thanksgiving turkey, first decide if you are buying fresh or frozen.  Fresh turkeys tend to be smaller than frozen birds.  If buying fresh, buy no earlier than two days before roasting.  Plan for about 1 ½ pounds per person to allow for leftovers.  Keep in mind that guests won’t be eating leftovers unless you send them home with some. If cooking for a crowd larger than 15 people, consider buying two smaller turkeys.  Not only will they defrost quicker, but the smaller birds will cook more evenly and quickly than a large bird.  If your family prefers white meat, buy one whole turkey and a turkey breast.

Turkey Size

Number of People Served

6 – 8 lbs

4 – 6

8 – 12 lbs

6 – 8

12 – 14 lbs

8 – 12

14 – 18 lbs

12 – 15

18 – 20 lbs

15 – 20

20 – 24 lbs

20 +

Should I roast a turkey breast for two people?

Why not?  Aim for a smaller breast, and remember you will have lots of leftovers.  If you like dark meat, roast a 4-5 lb chicken.  And, if you don’t want all of the leftovers, roast cornish game hens.  

How do I make perfect pie crust?

Making Pie Crust in the food processor makes it foolproof!  The food processor keeps all the ingredients cold, and cold ingredients = flaky pie crust. And, once you try making Food Processor Pie Crust, you’ll never make it by hand again!  If the thought of homemade pie crust at Thanksgiving makes you want to run for the hills, fear not.  This pie crust takes only minutes to make, can be prepared ahead of time, and makes a perfect, flaky crust every time.

What can I make ahead?

Almost everything!  Planning ahead at Thanksgiving is essential to a Foolproof Turkey Day! These recipes can be made or prepared ahead of time:

Cranberry Sauce

Sweet Potato Pie

Pumpkin Pie + Homemade Whipped Cream

Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole + Homemade Cream of Mushroom Sou[

Pretzel Rolls

Sausage Balls

Mexican Street Corn Casserole

Stuffed Mushrooms

Pecan Pie

Glazed Carrots

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Are Appetizers Necessary?

Appetizers and beverages need to be planned to keep the edge off everyone’s hunger without filling them up too much.  These recipes should also be something that can be made ahead of time and needs little last minute preparation or warming up like a Veggie Tray or Sausage Balls, or a Cheeseball.

bacon jalapeno popper cheeseball recipe christmas appetizer easy
Jalapeno Popper Cheeseball

How long can I keep leftovers?

Friday’s leftover turkey sandwich is probably just as anticipated as the main event.  Sandwiches are great, but they aren’t the only way to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers.  Leftovers shouldn’t be complicated, after all, you probably feel like you’ve cooked enough yesterday for the next week month! Your creativity and what you have on hand are what turn leftovers into meals. Refrigerate or freeze everything in shallow containers that will let the food cool quickly.  Turkey should be eaten within 3-4 days.  Gravy is only good for 1-2 days.

How To Take The Stress Out Of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be hard. Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned pro, this Thanksgiving Planner has everything you need for a Foolproof Thanksgiving. From appetizers to dinner to dessert, I have it covered.

This printable Thanksgiving Planner will help you stay organized this Thanksgiving because to pull of a Foolproof Thanksgiving dinner you need a plan! I’ve done the planning and with Printable Thanksgiving Planner when includes a pre planned Thanksgiving Dinner Menu with a completed Grocery List and all 30 Recipes included you just download, print, shop and prepare!

Thanksgiving Planning Guide Includes:

√Thanksgiving 101 – Includes everything you need to know from turkey to sides to pie so you can plan, prepare, and cook a Foolproof Thanksgiving Dinner.
√30+ Recipes – Appetizers, Drinks, Sides, Turkey, Desserts and Leftovers
√Thanksgiving Menu and Grocery List
√Thanksgiving Game Plan – A Step-By-Step Guide to prepare and cook Thanksgiving dinner. Follow this guide and you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family on Thanksgiving. The Game Plan starts a week out and helps you prepare everything from appetizers to dessert ahead of time for a foolproof dinner.
√Guest List
√Equipment & Supplies List – Everything you need to prepare and cook Thanksgiving dinner.
√Blank Planners – Plan your own Thanksgiving dinner with these printable planners. Included; Menu, Grocery List and Guest List in Two Different Designs
√Thanksgiving FAQ
√& More!

With this Thanksgiving Planner, you’ll spend less time stressing and more time enjoying Thanksgiving! You will even have time to watch the game or the parade!

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