Top 3 tips and tricks for cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey

Whether you choose to roast or fry that holiday fowl, Butterball Turkey Line director Nicole Johnson has some advice to offer by way of the three “Ts”.

The star of Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey. For many people, however, cooking the turkey can be the most perplexing part of the occasion.

But fear not, kitchen warriors. Whether you choose to roast or deep fry that holiday fowl, Butterball Turkey Line director Nicole Johnson has some advice to offer by way of the three "Ts":

Thawing

Frozen turkeys can take days to thaw in the refrigerator. For cooks who’ve procrastinated or simply forgotten to set out their turkeys, Johnson suggests thawing the birds in a cold water bath.

Turkeys should be set to thaw in that bath for half an hour per pound. So, a 10-pound turkey would take about 5 hours to thaw in a cold water bath.

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Tenting

Johnson prefers cooking the turkey in the oven, open pan and no lid, at 325 degrees from start to finish. During that time, however, different parts of the turkey cook at different rates.

A common sight in many kitchens is the breast area starting to brown faster than the rest of the bird. Johnson recommends tenting, or covering the breast area with a piece of foil.  

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Thermometer

The most accurate way to check for done-ness is by using a thermometer, according to Johnson. She noted that a cooked thigh should measure at 80 degrees and the breast should be 170 degrees.

"[The thermometer] is really your best friend on Thanksgiving Day," she said.

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Two-hour rule

A fourth "T," or turkey tip, pertains to food safety and leftovers. According to Johnson, turkey meat should be sliced off the bone and then placed in the refrigerator in two hours or less.

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