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Turkey 101

Turkey is the centrepiece of the holiday dinner table, and one of the most anticipated flavours of the season. But cooking a turkey with all the fixings can be a daunting task. We've taken the guesswork out of your celebration this year with our complete guide to a turkey feast. From preparing, roasting and carving the bird, to stirring up tasty stuffing and making rich gravy, we've got each step covered.

Print our Essential Turkey Guide

1. Buying

Buy one pound per person. You may want to buy a fresh turkey, as opposed to frozen, to avoid days of thawing.

2. Thawing

Thaw turkey in unopened wrapper, breast-side up, on a tray in the refrigerator. For every four pounds of turkey, allow one day of thawing.

3. Preparing

Watch our how-to video for Roast Turkey with Sausage and Stuffing

Remove neck and excess fat and giblets from chest cavity. Rinse cavities and outside of turkey with cold water. Blot with paper towels.

Season cavity and area under the skin with salt, pepper and herbs. Try poultry seasoning, thyme, sage or marjoram.

Stuff the bird with prepared Stove Top Stuffing Mix.

Help turkey cook evenly by making it as compact as possible. Tuck legs into ring of skin that they were originally in when you unwrapped bird. Fold first joint of wings underneath bird's back.

You can make gravy even more flavourful by cooking turkey on a bed of quartered carrots, celery and onions. View our Perfect Gravy video.

Brush skin with vegetable oil to prevent it from drying out during roasting.

Insert a meat thermometer deep into the thickest part of the thigh next to the body. Make sure it does not touch the bone.

4. Cooking

Place in foil roasting pan and bake at 325°F for required time (see below). There's no need to baste - the natural juices will seal in tenderness.

Check bird after indicated cooking time. The internal temperature should register at least 170°F on a meat thermometer. Thigh juices should run clear, not pink, when pierced with a fork, and leg joint should move freely when cooked.

5. Resting

Remove turkey from oven. Place on cutting board resting in a large cafeteria-style tray with a lip or on a flat aluminum foil tray.

Tent the cooked turkey with foil. Let stand for 30-45 minutes. This resting time allows the juices to saturate the meat evenly for the most tender turkey.

6. Stuffing

Stove Top Stuffing is great prepared on the side and you can make as much as you need - you're not limited by the size of your turkey.

Prepare Stove Top Stuffing mix according to package directions.

Add in a few handfuls once the water has boiled. Some add-ins to try: chopped dried fruit, Kraft Shredded Cheese, chopped toasted nuts, orange segments, chopped cranberries, grated apples, pears, carrots or zucchini, cooked sausage or cooked ground beef.

7. Carving

Carve turkey in the kitchen, not at the dinner table. A cutting board and tray will allow you to carve without juices leaking all over.

 1. Start by removing the wings.

 2. To remove legs, pull back leg to expose the joint while you cut. Then cut through the joint.

3. Cut each breast off the turkey in a whole piece. Make an incision on either side of breast bone and cut along ribs until the breast is free.

Remove any other large portions of meat still attached to the bones.

The remaining carcass can be picked apart the next day for use in sandwiches or soups. Simply wrap up in aluminum foil and refrigerate.

Choosing the right-sized turkey and knowing exactly how much time you'll need can be challenging. See our turkey guide below to help you make the wisest choice.

Turkey by the Numbers
Turkey size 8-12 lbs 12-14 lbs 14-18 lbs 18-20 lbs
Thawing time (in refrigerator) 2-3 days 3-3 ½ days 3 ½-4 ½ days 4 ½ -5 days
Baking time (at 325°F) 3-3 ½ hours 3 ½-4 hours 3 ½-4 ½ hours 4-5 hours
Number of servings 8-12 12-14 14-18 18-20
Number of boxes of Stove Top Stuffing you'll need 2-3 3-4 4-5 5-6