Last Minute Turkey Tips

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, my all-time favorite holiday!  Although, I don't get to celebrate it as I would in the States, the feelings and memories remain.

The main dish that many Americans will be preparing tomorrow is turkey.  I love turkey!  But I didn't always feel that way.

My grandparents never made turkey.  If we didn't spend Thanksgiving with family and friends, we spent it at church.  Some of the turkeys I tasted were very dry and not very tasty.

For my first Thanksgiving as a married woman, I had no idea how to make a turkey.  But I had to learn fast, because my hubby's boss gave all of his employees a turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I perused every cookbook and magazine I could get my hands on.  All of the recipes looked so pretty, but how to choose the right recipe for my first turkey? 

With so many choices, it was difficult to make a decision.  So I did what anyone in my situation would have done.  I called one of my favortie aunts, who worked in the restaurant business for many years, for some advice.  Aunt Marian was a godsend.  I followed her directions exactly and the result was the best tasting and juiciest turkey I ever had.  It was so good, that friends and family started asking me for advice on how to roast a turkey.  I've shared Aunt Marian's tips with them and now I'm sharing them with you.
  • Start to defrost your turkey 3 days before Thanksgiving.  To do this, place it on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.
  • Preheat your oven to 475º F.
  • Prepare your stuffing before you rinse your turkey.  The stuffing needs to cool to room temperature before placing it inside the turkey.  Hot stuffing inside a cold turkey leads to a bunch of bacteria that you don't want to mess with!
  • Rinse your turkey, inside and out with cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels.
  • If you are going to stuff your turkey, do so now!
  • Generously brush the turkey with melted butter that has cooled.  You want to brush the butter into every nook and cranny of your turkey!
  • Generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over your turkey.
  • Place turkey in a roasting pan or large baking pan.  Tuck the turkey wings under the turkey.  (This will prevent them from burning.)  Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen twine.
  • Place the roasting pan in the oven.  (If using an aluminum roasting pan, be sure to support the bottom of the pan with both hands or your turkey will end up on the floor.)
  • Bake the turkey at 475º F for an hour or until the turkey has a nice golden brown color all over. 
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350º F and cover turkey with aluminum foil.  Allow turkey to cook for 20 minutes per pound of turkey. 
  • Remove turkey from oven, but DO NOT remove the aluminum foil cover.  Let the turkey sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy the juicy, fall-off-the-bone goodness!
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

With Love,
Leslie Limon

*Photo courtesy of


  1. Hi Leslie,

    Good tips for turkey prep. I do have to disagree with putting stuffing inside a turkey—this is never a good idea and is a stomach ache is the making. To get the dressing to the temp needed to kill the bacteria from the turkey drippings would dry out the turkey completely. Dressing is safer cooked in a separate pan.

    Thanks for all the great recipes!

    Happy Thanksgiving! Pete

  2. I think the first, is the best tip. An that is to make sure plenty of time for defrosting is allowed. Scary the risks some people take. Excellent post. I will have to take a read of your earlier stuff another time.