The centerpiece of any Thanksgiving dinner is of course the turkey. Whether you're about to host your first Thanksgiving dinner or you're an old pro, you're apt to pick up a new trick or two from this collection of the best turkey tips from the pages of Fine Cooking: everything from choosing the best bird to unorthodox cooking methods. Want more? Visit the Thanksgiving Guide for hundreds of recipes for moist turkey, hearty sides, and perfect pies, and subscribe to Fine Cooking magazine to get recipes and menu ideas all year long.
Choosing a Turkey
1. Size matters: How big a turkey?
For birds under 16 pounds, figure at least 1 pound of turkey per person. For larger birds 16 pounds and heavier, figure a bit less since there's more meat in proportion to bone. If you want substantial seconds and leftovers, allow another 1/2 pound per person.
Turkey Weight (in pounds)
| Average Servings
|| Ample Servings with Leftovers
2. Got a big crowd? Roast two smaller turkeys
(12 pounds or less) instead of one large one. Smaller turkeys fit better in the fridge and roasting pan, plus they cook more quickly and evenly. Plus, it lets you experiment with two different types of preparations.
3. Choose the right turkey
With so many turkeys on the market, trying to choose your holiday bird can be mind-boggling: free-range? organic? natural? We recommend choosing a fresh turkey without any added ingredients, and organic, kosher, heritage or premium-brand turkeys are all great options. But what do all those terms mean? See below.