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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Extension Today: Talking Turkey

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Are you the "turkey master" in your family?
Or are you up for the challenge to learn how to cook a turkey this year?!

The delicious smell of turkey cooking in your kitchen and house will tempt your taste buds and make everyone hungry this holiday! Get connections to recommendations for thawing a frozen bird, add flavor with various seasonings inside and out, roast for tenderness and juiciness, then serve to the delight of your family and friends.

There are numerous recipes you can look up and try at home – and make your own kitchen smell wonderful as you roast your Thanksgiving turkey this upcoming holiday season!

Thawing and roasting turkey – here’s how we did it! If using a frozen turkey, allow 24 hours to thaw for every 4-5 pounds. Fresh turkey is usually purchased a few days before Thanksgiving. Steps to prepare: Remove the neck and gizzard. Stuff the cavity with onions, garlic, and fresh herbs. Add a few large pitches of salt and some pepper to the cavity. Add rosemary, sage, and parsley. Cut onion into quarters, then add to cavity. Add garlic (whole bulb is fine). Tie the back legs together to help keep the seasoning inside the turkey. Secure the wings to help keep the breast moist. Season the outside of the bird. Coat the outside of the turkey with olive oil, then add salt and pepper to the top of the turkey. Cook in a roaster at 325 degrees Fahrenheit (e.g. 4 hours for a 15-pound turkey). The meat should reach at least 165 degrees. Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before craving

Talk turkey like you mean it! Learn more via free fact sheets available on Ohioline about adding turkey to your menu, storing and freezing leftover turkey, and other helpful hints.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers advice via Let's Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey.

If you bought a frozen turkey, it is important to thaw it properly. Read more on Chow Line: Thawing a Frozen Turkey Safely.

Do Not (I repeat) do not rinse the turkey....Read this Chow Line update for more about NOT rinsing raw turkey.

To stuff or not to stuff... What should you do? Learn more in this Chow Line: Don't Stuff the Bird update.

How long can you freeze, then use turkey? Learn more in Chow Line: A Year or Two is not Too Long to Use Uncooked Frozen Turkey.

There are a lot of other resources posted online about turkey. Visit this connection for just a few healthy tradition observations.

Have meat, poultry, or egg product questions? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline toll free at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854). The hotline is staffed by food safety specialists with backgrounds in home economics, nutrition, and food technology who can personally answer your food safety questions on weekdays year-round. The hotline is open on Thanksgiving Day from 8am to 2pm, Eastern time, but closed on other federal government holidays.

The hotline is open year-round Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm, ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. Send email questions to Check out the FSIS website at Hotline services are available in Spanish. Touch the appropriate number at the prompt to be connected to a Spanish-speaking food safety specialist. Callers also may listen to more than 50 food safety messages recorded in Spanish, 24 hours a day.