4 Best Ways to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

Everything about Thanksgiving warms your soul, the smell, the taste and the post-dinner food coma. But the star of the show always seems to be the turkey. If you are hosting the big dinner this year and plan to serve turkey, how will you prepare it?

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Check out these 4 options for creating a perfectly cooked turkey that will have your family lining up at your front door for the next holiday dinner.

Roasting

Whether you are a first time cook or a seasoned pro, roasting a turkey is easier than you think. Follow these simple instructions for a fresh or thawed turkey:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, drain juices and pat dry. Place turkey breast side up on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan, 2 to 2 ½ inches deep. Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the lower part of the thigh. When the thigh is up to temperature, move the thermometer to the center.  Place your turkey in the oven. When turkey is 2/3 done, cover breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of foil to prevent overcooking. Your turkey is done when the thigh temperature is 180 degrees and the breast is 165 degrees. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Deep-Frying

Deep-frying is a great way to make the turkey crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. You can fry in either peanut or vegetable oil.

Completely thaw your turkey. Add oil to the fryer; do not exceed maximum fill line. Preheat oil to 400 degrees. While the oil is heating up, pat turkey dry and prepare your seasonings or marinades. Once the oil is heated, slowly lower the turkey into the fryer. Set your timer for about 3 to 4 minutes per pound. Cook dark meat to an internal temperature of 175 to 180 degrees and white meat to an internal temperature of 165 to 170 degrees. When the turkey is done, slowly lift from the pot and place on a pan to drain. Let turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving.

Smoking

Smoking is a creative alternative to outdoor cooking methods. Though not a task for an impatient chef, the results will leave you with an amazingly smoky flavor.

First, thaw your turkey and remove its internal parts. Before you smoke the turkey, you may want to brine it (optional). If brining, let turkey sit for about 1 hour per 1 pound of meat. Rinse and dry off the turkey. Season with a mix of spices and herbs, preferably using a wet rub because it will stick to the meat better. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees. Oil the grate to prevent sticking. Add your turkey and insert a thermometer into the breast. Be sure to keep a close eye on your turkey so you don’t over cook or dry it out. Calculate about 30 to 40 minutes per pound. Baste the turkey with butter during the process to keep it moist. Let the turkey smoke until the internal temperature has reached 160 degrees. Remove and let it rest.

Grilling

Although not traditional, grilling the turkey is one of the best ways to get a beautifully browned bird that is full of flavor.

Rinse and pat turkey dry. Brush with oil and season inside and out. Place turkey, breast side up, on a metal grate inside a large roasting pan. Grill 2 to 3 hours to an internal thigh temperature of 180 degrees. Remove and let stand 15 minutes before carving.