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How To Prepare Your Thanksgiving Turkey Guide

Thanksgiving Turkey Guide

It’s that time of year again – time to roast the Thanksgiving Turkey! 

You've bought yourself a large turkey to feed your family for days, (we know - leftovers are part of the tradition!) but now you aren’t sure what to do next?
This might be your first year roasting a turkey, or maybe it’s just been a while! 

Whatever your situation, we've got your back! You’ll be cooking that turkey like a pro in no time.

We will cover:

Roasting Your Turkey

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 4 hrs*
Total: 4 hrs 30 mins*


  • 1 Turkey (18 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 quarts turkey stock
  • 8 cups prepared stuffing

What you need:

  • Roasting pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Meat Thermometer (or a popup timer)


1. Preheat to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place rack in the lowest position of the oven.

2. Remove the turkey neck and giblets. Rinse out the turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey, breast side up, in a roasting pan.

3. Season the turkey inside out with salt and freshly ground pepper. Then loosely fill the body cavity with stuffing. Rub the skin with the softened butter. Cover the turkey with a tinfoil tent.

4. Place turkey in the oven, and pour 2 cups of the turkey stock into the bottom of the roasting pan. Baste every 30 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan. Add an additional 1 to 2 cups of stock as the drippings evaporate. 

5. Remove the aluminum foil after 2 1/2 hours. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the turkey thigh reads 165 degrees F (75 degrees C), about 4 hours.

6. Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter, and let it stand for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

*Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your turkey, and oven differences. Please be sure the interior reached 165 F before removing from the oven. Continue to our Cooking Time guide below for more information. 

Turkey Cooking Time

If your turkey is a different size than what the recipe above calls for, not to worry! Here is a guide to estimate the cooking time for any turkey.

Please note that there could be variations in your oven. Remember to have a meat thermometer on hand, as that is the most reliable way to ensure your turkey is cooked thoroughly and is safe to eat. A turkey is fully cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F

Turkey Weight Roasting Time at 325 F (unstuffed)

Roasting Time at 325F

12-14 lbs. 3 - 3 3/4 hours 3.5 - 4 hours
14-18 lbs. 3 - 3.5 hours 4 - 4 1/4 hours
18-20 lbs. 3.4 - 4 hours 4 1/4 - 4 3/4 hours
20-24 lbs. 4.5 - 5 hours 4 3/4 - 5 1/4 hours 

A good rule of thumb is 15 to 20 minutes per 1 lb. of turkey.

How to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

It's the big day and your turkey is still a block of ice... to avoid this common Thanksgiving mistake, be sure to give yourself ample time to fully thaw out a frozen turkey before the big day! Also, remember food safety: NEVER thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature on the kitchen counter, or use hot water.

Tips for Thawing Turkey in the Refrigerator:

  • Allow 24 hours for every 5 lbs. of turkey. (Example: 15 lb. of turkey will need 3 days to thaw completely.)
  • Keep the original wrapping on when defrosting in the fridge
  • Place the frozen turkey on a baking pan, to prevent any drips from contaminating other foods and surfaces
  • A thawed turkey can continue to be stored in the fridge for 2 days before cooking

Tips for Thawing Turkey with Cold Water:

  • Allow 30 minutes for every 1 lb. of turkey. (Example: 15 lb. of turkey will need 7.5~8 hours to thaw completely)
  • Keep the original wrapping on, and place the turkey into a large, leak-proof plastic bag. Make sure to squeeze out any extra air before sealing.
  • Placed the sealed bag breast-side down into a sink or a large bucket big enough for the whole turkey to be submerged. A large plate or heavy cans may help to weigh down the turkey.
  • Change the cold water every 30 minutes.
  • Cook the turkey immediately after thawed.

Tips for Thawing Turkey with a Microwave Oven:

  • First, check the user manual of your oven for any specific instructions on thawing a turkey.
  • Defrost times and power will vary between microwave oven models
  • Remove wrapping and any metal clips or tags
  • Place turkey breast-side up in a microwave-safe pan. if your microwave oven does not have specific turkey instructions, you can use the defrost function. It will take about 6 minutes per pound of turkey.
  • Rotate the turkey throughout defrosting, and check that it does not start cooking in the microwave oven. If this happens, allow the turkey to sit for a few minutes before continuing to defrost. 
  • When finished, wash the inside of the microwave oven to prevent any cross-contamination.
  • Cook the turkey immediately after thawing.

You now know everything you need to cook a great Thanksgiving Turkey! Check out your local Market Basket for fresh or frozen Turkey at great More For Your Dollar prices. Does Thanksgiving dinner still seem a bit daunting? Skip the cooking! Order your Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner from the Deli counter today!