Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

How to cook a perfect turkey

Leading up to the holidays, NAIT Culinary Arts instructor Jason St. Laurent has received a series of questions about how to cook a turkey. Here’s how St. Laurent cooks a perfect bird everytime.

Make sure your turkey is fully thawed, and only thaw slowly in the fridge. Doing so on the counter or in the sink can cause serious food-borne illness. Here are average thawing times: 

  • 3.6-5.4 kg (8-12 lbs): 2-3 days
  • 5.9-7.3 kg (13-16 lbs): 3-4 days
  • 7.7-9.1 kg (17-20 lbs): 4-5 days
  • 9.5-10.9 kg (21-24 lbs): 5-6 days
     

Once thawed, take out the neck and giblets and set aside. Some people simmer these with onion and water, making a nice stock for gravy to add to the pan drippings.

Rub olive oil on the skin of the turkey breast. Season with desired spices (salt, pepper, sage, etc.). Place the bird breast side up in a roasting pan.

Start cooking the turkey uncovered at about 190 C (375 F) until you see some nice color on the top. This might take an hour or so (if you have a convection oven this will happen sooner than with a conventional oven).

Lower the temperature to 150 C (300 F) and cover with foil. Cook the bird until it is at an internal temperature of 77 C (170 F) at the inner thigh and 71 C (160 F) at the breast. You don’t want to see red juice from either of these spots.

Once done, remove from oven and rest for 20 minutes before carving. Enjoy!


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