Whole Turkey 101

Everything you need to know in our downloadable brochure: Turkey 101 e-manual (PDF)

Thawing Your Frozen Turkey

The safest way to thaw frozen turkey is either in the refrigerator or in cold water.  You should never thaw your turkey at room temperature.

Thawing using a refrigerator is the safest as it keeps the meat cold until it is completely defrosted.  Place the turkey on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator in a roasting pan or on a tray.  You should make sure to allow about 5 hours per pound (10 hours per kg).

If thawing using the cold water method, cover the turkey completely with cold water. Keep the turkey in its original wrapping.  Make sure to change the water at least every hour and allow about 1 hour per pound (2 hours per kg).

Once your turkey is thawed keep it refrigerated and make sure to cook it within 48 hours.

NOTE: If you are cooking a frozen, pre-stuffed turkey - DO NOT THAW.  Cook from frozen, following directions on the products’ package.

Roasting Your Turkey Safely

Important Points:

    • The Turkey Farmers of Canada recommends cooking a whole turkey to an internal temperature of 170⁰F (77⁰C) in the breast and 180⁰F (82⁰C) in the thigh.
    • Any stuffing placed in the cavity of the bird should reach an internal temperature of at least 165⁰F (74⁰C).
    • Cook all turkey breast meat and thighs until the meat thermometer registers 165⁰F (75⁰C).
    • Cook all ground turkey (including sausages) to an end-point temperature of 165⁰F (74⁰C).
    • Be sure to let the bird stand for 15-20 minutes before carving.

turkey thermometer

This illustration shows your where to place your thermometer to check the temperature of your turkey.

Roasting a Turkey:

How to insert a thermometer:

Storing Your Turkey

Fresh turkey, as with any meat product is perishable. Bacteria multiplies most rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40 ⁰F (4⁰C) and 140⁰F (60⁰C). Since you can’t smell or taste bacteria, the following tips will ensure safe and enjoyable meals for your family.


Safe Turkey Handling

There are 4 easy steps you can take at home in order to eliminate harmful bacteria and greatly reduce the risk of foodborne illness for your family.