To ensure the perfect turkey this Thanksgiving, check to make sure the turkey reaches a temperature of 170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh. The true indicator that a turkey is ready to eat is to measure the bird’s temperature with a food thermometer. Accurate temperatures, both in the oven and the turkey, are important for quality and safety. Since most consumers spend little time in the kitchen during the year, it is important to check the oven thermostat and oven temperature to verify the oven setting.

A recent National Turkey Federation (NTF) survey found that less than 50 percent of home cooks use a thermometer to determine doneness of a turkey and or stuffing. This could mean that many home cooks are over cooking or undercooking their turkey — leading to a disappointing outcome. NTF wants to make a food thermometer a cook’s best friend by providing guidelines to ensure proper use.

Time is a measurement in helping to ensure doneness. The turkeys purchased today yield a higher proportion of white meat, which cooks faster than dark meat and shorten the time it takes to prepare the turkey.

Temperature Indicator — Add One

                            TURKEY ROASTING TIMES
(Approximate Timetable for Roasting a Turkey at 325 degrees F.)

Weight Unstuffed Stuffed
8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 to 3 hours 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

“Temperature is the true indicator that your turkey is ready for consumption,” said Sherrie Rosenblatt, NTF’s director of public relations. “Throw away those old cookbook with the incorrect cooking timetable and purchase a food thermometer to not only use at Thanksgiving but all year long.”

Food thermometers are more high-tech and easier to use than ever before. There are pop-up, digital, instant-read and disposable. Proper placement is the key to an accurate read. Just insert the thermometer 2 1/2 inches in the deepest portion of the turkey breast or into the inner thigh near the breast. Make sure the thermometer does not touch the bone. When inserting the thermometer in the turkey breast, insert it from the side, which make it easier to read and more accurate than inserting from the top.

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The NTF web site takes all the guesswork out of making a perfect Thanksgiving meal for the entire family. Just click on to find tips and recipes for creating a scrumptious, stress-free Thanksgiving feast. The Thanksgiving cooking page provides a virtual encyclopedia of information regarding all aspects of the Thanksgiving meal.

The National Turkey Federation is the advocate for all segments of the U.S. turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities which increase demand for its members’ products and protect and enhance the ability to effectively and profitably provide wholesome, high quality nutritious products.