Our Best Turkey Day Tips

    • Guest List
    • Menu
    • Grocery list
    • Equipment list – What will you need to make and serve each dish?
    • Review Timing for preparation of each dish – What can you do in advance?
    • Wine and other beverages: In many areas, liquor stores are closed on holidays, so purchase any alcoholic beverages before Thursday.
  1. PREPARE THE REFRIGERATOR and storage containers for leftovers.
  1. BUY THE TURKEY well in advance of Turkey Day
    • This should be done at least 3 to 4 days in advance of the dinner if buying frozen to allow ample time for thawing
    • If you’re ordering a special turkey or side dishes from a butcher or caterer ,place your order this week to ensure that what you need is available.
    • How much turkey do you need? Rule of thumb: Allow 1 lb. of uncooked turkey per guest.
    • If buying a frozen turkey, you will need to allow ample time for thawing, and you can find thawing guidelines here.
    • NEVER thaw at room temperature. It is always best to thaw the turkey in a refrigerator, whenever possible, but a cold-water method can also be used. It takes less time with cold water, but is not as safe as a refrigerator.
    • Cook at 350°F for approx. 15 to 17 minutes per pound.
    • If the turkey is also stuffed, add an additional 30 minutes of cooking time.
  1. USE A MEAT THERMOMETER to ensure the turkey is thoroughly cooked. Once the turkey has reached its cooking time, you will need to take two temperatures to test for doneness.
    • Insert a meat thermometer into the breast – the temperature should be 165°F.
    • Next, insert the thermometer into the thigh of the leg for a reading of 180°F.
    • If you stuff your turkey with dressing, you will also need to insert the thermometer into the stuffing for a reading of 165°F.
  1. ALLOW THE TURKEY TO REST for 30 minutes after removing from the oven. This will help to retain its moisture.
  1. SHARPEN YOUR KNIVES! A proper carving knife is the best utensil for carving a turkey, and the sharper, the better and safer. Check your local kitchen or hardware store for sharpening services.
  1. USE PORTABLE STEAM TABLES to hold side dishes to ensure that everything is hot when the turkey is served.
  1. MAKE YOUR LEFTOVER PLAN: What do you plan to do with the leftover turkey and side dishes? Make our Turkey Chipotle Chowder, or, instead of throwing out the turkey’s carcass, use it to make turkey stock.


Turkey Thawing Time in the Refrigerator (40°F) – approx. 24 hours per 5 pounds

*Leave the bird in its original wrapping and place on a tray inside refrigerator*

Whole Turkey Weight                   Thawing Time                   Day to Begin (a.m.)
8 to 12 lbs                                                        1 to 2 days                         Tuesday
12 to 16 lbs                                                      2 to 3 days                         Monday
16 to 20 lbs                                                      3 to 4 days                         Sunday
20 to 24 lbs                                                      4 to 5 days                         Saturday

Turkey Thawing Time in Cold Water – approx. 30 minutes per pound.

*Change the water every half-hour*

Whole Turkey Weight                   Thawing Time
8 to 12 lbs                                                        4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 lbs                                                      6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 lbs                                                      8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 lbs                                                      10 to 12 hours

Recommended Wine Pairings for a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

Prosecco Pinot Noir Cream Sherry
Riesling Shiraz Tawny Port
Gewürztraminer Beaujolais
Sauvignon Blanc Beaujolais Nouveau
Pinot Gris (not Grigio) Zinfandel