How to Tell if Thanksgiving Turkey Is Done

Telling when your Thanksgiving turkey is fully cooked can be difficult, as most people do not cook such large dishes very often. There are several methods you can use to check, though. This article will show you how.


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    Use a meat thermometer. This is the most reliable method. The minimum internal temperature of the bird (taken in the thigh) should be 165° F; this temperature ensures that it is safe to eat.[1] Meanwhile, the breast should be 170° F and the stuffing 165° F.[2]
    • Note that since a turkey (when cooked as a whole) is large, the meat temperature will continue to rise after taken out of the oven. Thus, if you want the final internal temperature to be 165° F, take it out once it has reached 160° F; its temperature will rise another 5° F outside of the oven. (Let it rest for 20 minutes; this also insures that the juices will not run out when you slice it.)
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    Use this method if you have no thermometer. Make an incision between the thigh, breast, and leg, then examine the juices that result. If they are run clear, your turkey is ready. If they still have red to them, it needs more time to cook.
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    Check the color of the meat near the bone. Using multiple methods will better ensure that your turkey is fully cooked. Make a cut where the bird's thigh meets its body and check the meat near the bone. It shouldn't be pink. If it is, it needs more time to cook.[3]
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    Do not rely on the turkey's appearance or smell. The color of the skin does not indicate whether the meat is cooked, nor does the smell of the bird.

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Categories: Thanksgiving Cooking | Turkey Dishes