How to Know When Your Turkey Is Done

Say goodbye to serving a dry turkey on Thanksgiving. Use these tips to ensure you cook the bird perfectly on the big day.

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How to Use a Meat Thermometer 00:31

Use this guide to ensure your Thanksgiving dinner turns out a success!

The best way to ensure that your Thanksgiving turkey stays delicious and moist is by taking it out at the correct temperature. Starting about 30 minutes earlier than your per-pound cooking calculations indicate, begin checking the internal temperature at regular intervals. To do so, carefully remove the roasting pan with the turkey from the oven and set it on the stovetop or counter. (Make sure to close the oven door behind you so the heat doesn't all escape!) Find the crease where the turkey leg attaches to the breast and insert your thermometer down into the meaty part of the thigh. If you feel the thermometer hit a bone, pull it out a little bit or readjust the position slightly so that it is no longer touching it, as it will give you a false reading. Hold the thermometer still until the numbers stop increasing. If it is not ready, return it to the oven.

According to the Department of Agriculture, a turkey must reach 165 degrees F to be safe, but you can take it out of the oven as low as 160 degrees F because the temperature will rise at it rests.

1. Use a digital, instant read thermometer for the most-accurate results.

2. Carefully take the turkey out of the oven and set it on the counter or stovetop, closing the oven door. Leaving the oven door open causes the temperature to drop and could prolong your cooking time.

3. Hold the thermometer perpendicular to the bird and insert it into the crease where the leg and breast meet, deep into the center of the meatiest part of the thigh, making sure it is not touching the bone. 

4. Hold the thermometer still until the numbers stop. If the temperature is between 160 and 165 degrees F, the turkey is done.

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