Last minute guide to cooking your Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings

It’s Thanksgiving on Thursday, but it’s not too late to plan the big meal.

Turkey is the traditional centrepiece, and just a few key tips will make sure that it turns out perfectly.

Find a turkey

This should be the easy part – they’re everywhere. Look for organic birds that have been allowed to roam free, and are free of chemicals or added hormones. It’s worth spending a little more for quality.

If you’re cooking for a smaller crowd or have a small kitchen or oven, you might want to consider a turkey breast on the bone. It’s easier to cook and won’t take up as much space.

You can defrost it by submerging it in its original packaging in cold water, refreshing the water every 20 minutes or so, until it’s at about 40 to 45 degrees throughout.

Buy a thermometer

A metal meat thermometer will make sure the bird is cooked to the right temperature and you’re not sick on Black Friday.

Insert it in the thickest part of the meat – usually one of the thighs – about three inches deep, and read after one to two minutes to make sure it has hit 165F before serving.

Brine the bird

You’ve still got time to nail this crucial step. Submerge the turkey in water with salt, lemon, and some garlic and put it in the fridge.

This will help keep the meat moist when cooking.

Stuff it



You can keep it simple and put some peeled and chopped apples, carrots, and onions inside the turkey once you’ve removed the giblets, leaving enough room for hot air to circulate.

Cook your traditional stuffing on the side instead, and it’ll get nice and crispy. Gordon Ramsay suggests rubbing a herb butter on the turkey at this point – mixed with some chopped garlic, parsley and bay – which should be rubbed underneath the skin.

Cook it

Making sure the bird is at room temperature, heat up the oven and get cooking.

A simple rule of thumb is 15-20 minutes of cooking time per pound, at about 325F, but it’ll depend on your oven.

Rest it

For an hour, or longer for larger birds, then carve and serve.

Sort the sides

The turkey is the main event but at Thanksgiving, the supporting cast matters.

We’ve got the best recipes for mashed potato, three different cranberry sauce recipes, great twists on the humble Brussels sprout and the perfect turkey gravy.

Make sure you’re serving the perfect wine to go with your feast. Oh, and if you’ve got vegan guests coming over or are just tired of turkey, we’ve got you covered right here.

And, if you’re not out bargain hunting on Black Friday, here are some good ideas to make the most of your leftovers.

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