Talking Turkey

Staffed with more than 50 seasoned home economists and turkey experts (Spanish and English) during November and December, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is available for first-time cooks and seasoned pros alike. For last minute help, call the Turkey Talk-line at 1-800-BUTTERBALL hotline. You can also visit for great regional recipes, tips, how-to videos and turkey calculators.


Thawing is the #1 question received at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line

  • Use the refrigerator to thaw, allow at least one day of thawing in the refrigerator for every four pounds of turkey. Fresh turkeys don't need to be thawed.
  • If short on time, submerge the turkey in cold water; Leave the bird in the wrapper, place it in a tub or sink of cold water and allow 30 minutes of thaw time for every pound of turkey.
  • Thawing the turkey at room temperature is not recommended as it could promote bacterial growth.
Food Handling

Remember home food safety tips when handling turkey and to avoid possible food borne illnesses:

  • Wash hands often
  • Keep raw turkey and ready-to-eat foods separated
  • Cook to proper temperature (180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh and 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the stuffing)
  • Refrigerate cooked turkey within 2 hours of carving to reduce temperature to below 40 degrees Fahrenheit
Turkey Prep
  • Before roasting, turn the turkey's wings back to hold the neck skin in place. This levels the turkey in the roasting pan to encourage even cooking, and with the wings out of the way, makes carving easier.
  • Prepare stuffing just before placing in the turkey, using only cooked ingredients. Loosely stuff neck and body cavities of completely thawed turkey and do not tightly pack stuffing into turkey.
  • Butterball recommends the open-pan roasting method to consistently create a tender, juicy and golden-brown turkey. Americans agree—62 percent of people reported they prepare their Thanksgiving turkey in an open pan. Use a shallow pan about 2 to 2½ inches deep and cook in a 325 degree conventional oven. Use a flat rack to raise the turkey off the bottom of the pan.
  • Brush the turkey lightly with oil or spray the turkey with a cooking spray before putting it in the oven.
  • Use the following roasting schedule as a guide for cook time for an open pan in a 325 degree conventional oven. Start checking for doneness 1/2-hour before recommended end times for a picture-perfect turkey:
    • 10 to 18 Net Weight (in pounds) --- 3-3/4 to 4-1/2 Stuffed (in hours)
      22 to 24 Net Weight (in pounds) --- 5 to 5-1/2 Stuffed (in hours)
      18 to 22 Net Weight (in pounds) --- 4-1/2 to 5 Stuffed (in hours)
      24 to 30 Net Weight (in pounds) --- 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 Stuffed (in hours)
  • Place a piece of lightweight foil loosely over the breast and top of the drumsticks when the turkey is 2/3 done to prevent overcooking the breast when using the Open Pan method.
  • Always use a meat thermometer to determine when the turkey is fully cooked. Temperatures should reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh and 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the stuffing.
  • Not sure exactly where that thermometer should go to get an accurate reading? Insert the meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle, but not touching the bone.
Knowing when the turkey is done and carving tips:
  • The turkey is done when the meat thermometer registers 180 degrees in the thigh and the juices no longer run pink.
  • Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving. This allows the turkey juices to set and stuffing temperature to rise to an ideal temperature.
  • Use a freshly sharpened, straight knife to make carving hassle-free.
  • Warm serving plates in the dishwasher just before carving the turkey to keep food warm when serving a big crowd.
Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL with any questions or visit for carving videos and instruction.

TURKEY TIDBITS from the National Turkey Federation

  • Male turkeys are called toms. Female turkeys are called hens.
  • Only male turkeys gobble. Female turkeys "click."
  • Turkey may be an all-American meal, but it's actually a native bird to Mexico – and in sync with this turkey heritage, Butterball offers bi-lingual assistance in Spanish with the Talk-Line and
  • The Pilgrims didn't have the first Thanksgiving! George Washington was the first person to declare all states in the union should celebrate a "Thanksgiving" on the same day.
  • Benjamin Franklin was the great American statesman who thought the turkey was so American that we should have chosen it as our national symbol, rather than the eagle.
  • President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.
  • The wattle is the red-pink fleshy covering of the throat and neck of the turkey. The comb is the red-pink fleshy tissue covering the top of the head. And there is no such thing as a gizzard.
  • Ninety-seven percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • Minnesota produces 46.5 million turkeys annually, more than any other state.
  • Americans feast on 690 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving!
  • Domesticated turkeys can't fly, but wild ones can fly for distances up to 55 miles.

About Butterball

Butterball is the nation's leading brand of turkey. Based in Naperville, Butterball has served consumers for more than 50 years with a history of quality and consumer trust. For more information regarding Butterball, other related products and mouth-watering turkey recipes, visit the Butterball Web site at

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