I can’t believe autumn’s in full swing already. Before you know it, the ground will be covered with multicolored leaves and it will be Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. There is nothing I like more than gathering friends and family in my home as smells of a dinner made with love wafts through the air and intermingles with the love and laughter that flows authentically throughout the house. This is what makes Thanksgiving so special to our family.
But you know what every Thanksgiving needs? Well, mine for sure, we need turkey. It’s the one thing everyone expects and it’s the main course in most Thanksgiving dinners, so when you pick your turkey, you are setting the tone for the entire meal.
The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, I grossly overestimated the size we needed and the time needed to cook that bird. Needless to say, dinner was later than expected and there were more leftovers than anyone could possibly eat in the span before Christmas.
I’m a little wiser now and after years of practice, I know how to pick the perfect turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner; just the right size and type for us.
Here are a few tips to consider when choosing your Thanksgiving turkey this year:
If you need help deciding between freshÂ or frozen here are a few facts:
â—¦Â Fresh turkeys need no thawing and are ready to cook.
â—¦Â Fresh Butterball turkeys are all natural.
â—¦Â Frozen turkeys can be purchased weeks in advance but require several days of thawing before roasting. A quick rule of thumb is to allow 1 day for every 4 pounds of turkey. We normally get about a 26 pound turkey.
Yes, it takes forever to defrost in the refrigerator but it is less likely to give you salmonella than trying to defrost in cold water overnight. The water needs to be cold and changed every 30 minutes to prevent bacteria from growing which means someone needs to get up during the night to change the water so everyone doesn’t get sick and die. If you are not going with a fresh turkey, please defrost using the refrigerator.
As a rule of thumb, I usually allot about 3/4 pound of turkey for every adult at my table and 1/4 – 1/2 pound of turkey for each child at my Thanksgiving dinner. You will still have plenty of turkey leftovers and no one will leave your table hungry.
Choosing a tom turkey or a hen is a simple matter of what size you need. If you need anything over 15 pounds, you will need a tom turkey.
If you prefer more white meat, a turkey breast may be a better option for your family.
Cook times according to Butterball
Net Weight (lb.)
|4Â½ to 7||2 to 2Â½||2Â¼ to 2Â¾|
|7 to 9||2Â½ to 3||2Â¾ to 3Â½|
|9 to 18||3 to 3Â½||3Â¾ to 4Â½|
|18 to 22||3Â½ to 4||4Â½ to 5|
|22 to 24||4 to 4Â½||5 to 5Â½|
|24 to 30||4Â½ to 5||5Â½ to 6Â¼|
If all else fails, Butterball has a portion calculator, how long to cook, and how long to thaw calculator.
How do you choose the perfect turkey for your family?
Photo Source: PMUSC