The Unhealthy Mistake You Might Be Making When Cooking Turkey

When it comes to preparing turkey, it's easy to make mistakes. That's because cleaning and cooking an entire turkey for a holiday meal can be quite complicated (via MyRecipes). Since turkey is a large and sensitive bird, it's prone to being either undercooked or overcooked, which can make it dangerous to eat or completely inedible. On the one hand, overcooking it will dry out the meat, whereas undercooking it could lead to food poisoning.

Because of this, it's important to make sure that you wash and defrost your turkey properly and follow expert instructions when it comes to oven temperature and cooking time. As it turns out, experts at MyRecipes recommend cooking turkey at 350 or 400 degrees. The exact cooking time will vary depending on the size and weight of the turkey, however. Generally speaking, you should cook your turkey 13 minutes for every pound, so a six-pound turkey will take around 78 minutes to cook. When it's done, the skin of the turkey should look crispy and golden brown.

Don't thaw turkey by leaving it out

Before you can cook your turkey, however, you'll need to thaw it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three ways you can safely thaw your turkey. You can either thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. If you thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, you should keep it in its original packaging and leave it in there for about 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. Once it's completely thawed, it can stay in the refrigerator for one to two days before you need to cook it.

Thawing a turkey in cold water is a little more complicated, however. To do this, you'll need to completely submerge the turkey in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. It will take about 30 minutes to thaw for every pound of turkey and you'll need to cook it as soon as it's done thawing. Whatever you do, however, don't thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter. If your turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, it will no longer be safe to eat. That's because this temperature can encourage bacteria growth.