It’s that time of year again. The holidays are upon us and it is Turkey time again. Wow, the year went fast! Given the economic mess, that is probably a good thing. Regardless, it is time to do some cooking. In this article, we take a look at how to avoid the dry bird blues when cooking turkey for your friends and loved ones.

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…and the turkey shall feed them! That’s not a biblical quote, but it is appropriate for the Thanksgiving holiday. You need a bird that is going to feed everyone at the table. This means you need the right size. Obviously, having too much is better than not enough. Regardless, the basic guideline is to buy a bird that will provide 1.5 pounds for each person invited. It sounds like a lot and it is, but you can always turn the rest into sandwiches and such.

Okay, you have the bird. There are a host of recipes you can use. I’ll let you choose your own, but we are going to focus on keeping the bird juicy. The key is pretty simple – cooking time. The longer you cook, the drier the bird. So, let’s get down to the brass knuckles of the basic turkey preparation.


Tradition calls for the turkey to be cooked in an oven at 350 degrees. The turkey should be on the center rack and sitting in a roasting pan. The cooking times depend on whether the turkey is stuffed or not. For a bird less than 16 pounds, the cooking time is generally 3 hours if not stuffed and 4 hours if stuffed. For a bird up to 22 pounds, the time increases to 4 and 4.45 respectively. Birds up to 30 pounds are going to see times in the 5 hour and 6 hour range respectively. As you can tell, these are general guidelines, but there is a better way to tell exactly when the turkey is done.

The key is the temperature of the turkey. This is known as the thigh method. When the thigh meat reaches a temperature of 165 degrees, the turkey is done. Make sure you are testing the meat and not the bone. Ah, but what about basting? Basting actually doesn’t keep a turkey from drying out. It is a topical treatment that just makes sure the bird browns more completely.

Juicy turkey is a great Thanksgiving staple and treat. Keep an eye on the thigh meat temperature and you should be able to avoid the dreaded dry bird syndrome that many suffer from this time of year.