Thanksgiving’s right around the corner and turkey prep is top of mind. Whether this is your first year cooking the bird or you’re a seasoned expert, everyone knows it can be tricky, which is why we’re thankful for the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.
For decades, Butterball has enlisted a team of turkey pros to answer questions from cooks leading up to and on Thanksgiving day. The group of experts have all graduated from Butterball University a.k.a. turkey roasting bootcamp, so they know exactly how to prepare the perfect bird. Got a turkey problem? You can check out some of their best tips here, or ask them your own questions—no matter how ridiculous—via phone (1-800-BUTTERBALL), Facebook, or even text message.
1- Set aside several days to unthaw your turkey.
What’s the most common turkey conundrum the hotline hears about? Frozen turkeys! People tend to underestimate just how much time it will take to thaw out an icy bird, hotline staffers told The Kitchn. In fact, it takes one day for every four pounds of turkey to unfreeze in the fridge. And with the average size of a Thanksgiving turkey coming in around 15 pounds, you’re probably going to need four days for that big bird to unthaw.
2- Figure how much turkey and stuffing you’ll need with this calculator.
To help those in charge of planning the holiday meal, Butterball created a series of handy calculators to determine just how much food you’ll need to serve, how long it will take to thaw, and how much time it will require to cook. The calculator even budgets for leftovers! It doesn’t get easier than that (click on the image below to be redirected to Butterball’s website calculators):
3- Defrosting your turkey in the toilet is a bad idea.
Not the bathtub, not the toilet, not the jacuzzi—and yes, those are all real places cooks have tried and failed to safely defrost their turkeys, according to the hotline. The fridge is both the safest and most effective place for your turkey to thaw, hotline staffers told AL.com. If you find yourself rushing to de-freeze the bird, you can place packaged turkey in cold water in your kitchen sink. This will require 30 minutes of thaw time per pound.
4- But marinating your turkey in bourbon and cola is a really good idea.
Tasty and super easy (we bet you already have these ingredients at home!), it doesn’t get better than this quick flavor hack. Once you marinade your turkey in this mouthwatering combination, you won’t ever go back. Get the recipe at Butterball.
5- Make your own turkey lifter before the big day.
DIY your own turkey lifter with some kitchen twine and this simple string hack.
6- Skip basting and use vegetable oil instead.
The experts advise cooks to skip the basting step. “Basting is like pouring water over a rain coat,” Mary Clingman, a Butterball Talk-Line specialist told Tulsa World. If you’re after a crisp and golden skin, she recommends covering your turkey in vegetable oil instead.
7- Use a small pan to roast your turkey.
A roasting pan with 2-inch sides is ideal. “With a shallow pan, you get good heat distribution around the bird,” Mary told Tulsa World. “It cooks evenly and will have that nice picture-perfect look to it.” She also advises using a flat rack (instead of a V-shaped one) because it’s easiest to carve on.
8- You can also forget the rack and use carrots instead.
While your bird cooks, juices will drip over the carrots to the bottom of the pan, creating an even more flavorful base for your homemade gravy, Mary told Tulsa World. Yum!
9- If you’re going to deep fry your turkey, do this first.
Prevent your turkey from sticking by coating your deep fryer basket before you cooking, according to Butterball. Do this by submerging the basket in the hot oil, pull it out and let it cool, and then position your turkey inside the basket.
10- Just in case you were wondering, you can in fact coat your turkey in edible glitter.
Just make sure it’s edible glitter—not crafting glitter. “As long as it is food safe and would not melt it should be fine,” the hotline told one curious cook, according to Eater.com. “You may want to consider adding the glitter toward the end of cooking or just before serving.” Who knew?