Thanksgiving Tips

Tom Turkey's Tips

Turkeys can be thawed using one of three methods, but the most fool proof is in the refrigerator.


  • Thawing the turkey in the refrigerator is the safest method. Place the turkey, in the original wrapping, on a shallow baking sheet allowing 24 hours for every five pounds of bird weight for thawing.
  • To thaw the turkey more quickly, you may submerge it in cold water, in the original wrapping. Change the cold water every 30 minutes and allow 30 minutes per pound for thawing
  • The third safe method for thawing a turkey is in the microwave. Follow the manufacturer's directions, and roast the turkey immediately after thawing.


When preparing to stuff the turkey, many food safety professionals recommend that you cook the stuffing separately - it's MUCH safer! However if you prefer to stuff ole' Tom Turkey, the National Turkey Federation recommends that:


  • Stuffing be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it's placed in the oven for cooking.
  • When making stuffing ahead of time, wet and dry ingredients should be refrigerated separately and combined right before stuffing the turkey.
  • Stuff turkeys loosely with about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of bird.
  • Make sure to use moist stuffing because moist heat destroys bacteria rapidly.


Place the turkey immediately after you stuff it into a 325-degree oven. Use a regular meat thermometer and test in several places, including the innermost part of the thigh and the center of the stuffing. Cook the turkey until the thermometer temperature reaches at least 180 degrees in the thigh, 165 degrees in the stuffing and juices run clear. The turkey should be removed from the oven and allowed to "rest" for 20 minutes. This makes carving easier and allows the stuffing temperature to continue to rise. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, a meat thermometer should still be used to check the temperature of the stuffing.

When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and feeling full. For those of us who are watching what we eat, Thanksgiving can be a difficult time. However, these helpful tips will get you through the holiday season:


  • Balance what you eat with other meals throughout the day. If Thanksgiving dinner is scheduled for 5:00 pm, eat a small, low-calorie breakfast and lunch.
  • Don't deprive yourself of your favorites, make it a balancing act. For example, skip the salad dressing, or balance low-calorie foods, such as vegetables, with stuffing. Include lots of vegetables, both cooked and raw, fresh fruit or cranberry relish.
  • Steam vegetables, then season with herbs, lemon, or a small amount of parmesan cheese.
  • Buy white and sweet potatoes to provide flavor, variety, and a low-fat option.
  • Green leaf or romaine lettuce for the salad and a mix of chopped fresh vegetables can help keep nutritional balance.
  • If you are going to eat all day long, pace yourself and keep portions small.
  • Don't forget dessert. There are plenty of traditional desserts on Thanksgiving, such as pumpkin pie. If you choose to go a-la-mode, try low-fat frozen yogurt or reduced fat ice cream.


Finally, one of the best recommendations is to get moving on Thanksgiving Day. Physical activity is vital to health and fitness every day. Taking a brisk walk between courses, or at half time, might be the best suggestion of all.

Source: The National Turkey Federation, Food Safety and Inspection Service US Dept. of Agriculture