How to Tackle the Turkey Dinner

How to Tackle the Turkey Dinner:

Purchase: 1 pound of uncooked turkey per person and, if desired, an additional ½ pound per person for leftovers. If everybody prefers white meat, you'll need a slightly larger bird.  Alternately, you can purchase a turkey breast to roast along with your whole turkey to please the white meat eaters.

Defrost:   Never thaw at room-temperature; this promotes can bacterial growth (cooking can kill bacteria, but not the potential by-products/toxins the bacteria produce while the bird sits at room temperature).

In the fridge: Place wrapped, frozen turkey on a baking tray, breast side up. Place in refrigerator and allow about 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds. A 20-pound frozen turkey will take four to five days to thaw completely.

In water: If you're pinched for time, submerge the frozen, wrapped turkey in cold water to cover, changing the water every 30 minutes. It will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw.

  • A thawed turkey will keep up to two days in the refrigerator before roasting.

Cook: Cover turkey breast with foil.  For a fresh or thawed turkey roast at 325 to 350 degrees F, approx. 12-15 minutes per pound unstuffed, or 18-20 minutes per pound stuffed.  Fresh turkeys may cook more quickly (10-12 minutes per pound unstuffed) than defrosted turkeys. 

8 to 12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours unstuffed; 3 to 3 1/2 hours stuffed

12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours unstuffed; 3 1/2 to 4 hours stuffed

14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours unstuffed; 4 to 4 1/2 hours stuffed

20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours unstuffed; 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours stuffed

Remove foil from turkey breast and baste frequently during the last 45 minutes to 1 hour of roasting time.

It's Done: when the internal temperature of the thigh is 180 degrees and the center of the stuffing is 160 degrees.

Let the turkey stand: Wait 20 to 30 minutes before carving, to retain juices and to make carving easier. Use a very sharp knife or electric knife to carve turkey.

Frying: Smaller turkeys (14 lbs or under) are best for frying. Thaw turkey completely before cooking. Heat frying oil (peanut oil is recommended) to 375 degrees, pat turkey dry with paper towel and add to fryer.  Leave approx. 3 inches space between oil level and top of fryer while cooking your turkey to avoid oil bubbling over top of fryer.  Cook 3-4 minutes per pound, until internal temperature of the thigh is 180 degrees.  

Brining: Brining will add flavor and improve texture in even the least expensive birds.  Use 1 cup Kosher salt per gallon (4 qts) water (if substituting table salt, use 1/2 to 3/4 cup per gallon water).  Add herbs to water, if desired. Rosemary, thyme, chili peppers can all add flavor to your turkey.  Some chefs also add 1/2-1 Cup brown sugar to brine water.  Place turkey in a deep contained, breast down. Cover with brine.  Cover container and refrigerate and soak:

Less than 12 pound turkey:  Less than 12 hours

12-19 pound turkey: 12 hours

20+ pound turkey: 12-24 hours

Remove from brine and pat dry and roast as desired.  Discard brine water and sanitize brine container.

Time Savers: You can shave at least two hours from cooking time by cooking turkey in
parts rather than cooking the whole bird.

Roasting bags will also cut down the cooking time for your holiday turkey, with the added bonus of increasing turkey tenderness.

Look Beyond the Stove and Oven:

  • Microwaves can cook vegetables in about half the time
  • a slow cooker does all the work for you
  • Use a rice cooker can be used to make a variety of rice side dishes.

Using these other appliances will also save space on your stovetop and in your oven.

Lastly, remember to use safe food handling practices:  Don't cross contaminate—clean surfaces and utensils between uses – keeping raw meats from coming into contact with cooked foods or foods intended to be eaten raw (veggies and dip).   Keep foods at safe temperatures (avoid letting food stand more than 2 hours at room temperature).  And, don't forget to wash your hands frequently.

Holiday Recipes We Love!

Traditional Roast Turkey with Apple-Sausage Stuffing

Serves 10-12


Prepare Turkey:

1 12-14 pound whole turkey fresh or thawed, rinse surface and cavity – drain well, pat dry

Salt and pepper to taste:  Season inside cavity with salt and pepper

Coat turkey surface with Olive or Canola oil (approx. 1 to 2 tablespoons)

Prepare Stuffing:


1 lb. Pork sausage stuffing, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup celery, diced

1 Large apple, diced

1 16oz. bag Herb seasoned stuffing

1 tsp. Dried McCormick Herbes De Provence (or 1/2 tsp. Sage plus 1/2 tsp. Thyme)

1/4 tsp. Meijer powdered garlic

1/4 cup Margarine or butter, melted

2 eggs, blended with a fork or whisk

1 1/2 cups Chicken broth

1 Cup reduced fat milk


  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together cooked sausage, onion, celery, apple, stuffing, and spices.  Drizzle melted butter over stuffing. Add eggs, chicken broth and milk and mix well.
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place turkey in a large roasting pan.  Using a large spoon, fill turkey cavity and neck with stuffing (do not pack stuffing tightly into cavity) fold neck and tail skin over stuffing.  As a general rule, use no more than 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey.  Stuffing not used in the cavity of the bird can be baked covered for 30 minutes in a lightly greased baking dish.

Finishing Touches:

1 cup liquid

1 large onion, peeling and cut into eight wedges

  1. Pour 1 cup chicken broth, water or white/blush wine over the turkey.  Season surface with salt and pepper (and any other herbs you may wish to add).
  2. Surround turkey with onion wedges.  Tuck wings under the turkey back, and tie turkey legs (truss) so that they cross at the base (or tuck legs into skin at base of cavity.   Snugly cover breast with foil.   Cook in oven 2 1/2 to 3 hours covered (note: do not open oven during this time since it can increase baking time and contribute to drying of breast meat).
  3. Uncover turkey, baste with roasting juices and continue cooking until golden brown (basting every 20 minutes) and the internal temperature of the stuffing is at least 160 degrees and the turkey temperature is 180 degrees, when thermometer is inserted at the thickest point of the thigh.
  1. Remove from oven. Use remaining roasting juices to make gravy (see below); let stand 20 minutes before carving and removing stuffing from the turkey cavity.
Roast Turkey Gravy:

1 cup turkey pan drippings

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup flour

Optional: cooked, finely chopped turkey giblets

Place pan drippings in medium saucepan. Blend 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup room temperature chicken broth; mix well.  Blend flour mixture into pan drippings. Gradually blend in broth until smooth.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add finely chopped cooked giblets, if desired.

Calories 262

Fat 17 g

Saturated Fat 4 g

Trans Fat 0.0 g

Cholesterol 10 mg

Sodium 477 mg

Carbohydrates 26 g

Sugar 5 g

Protein 4 g

Iron 2 mg

Fiber 4 g

Potassium 104 mg

May substitute the flour with 1/4 cup cornstarch, if desired.


Classic Sweet Potato Casserole



3 tbls. Butter or margarine, melted

1/2 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 egg

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, divided

6 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 lbs) (or about 2 bags Ore-Ida steam n' mash cut sweet potatoes)

3 Tbls. Orange juice

1/4 tsp. salt


Cook sweet potatoes in enough boiling water to cover in Dutch oven 30 to 40 minutes or until tender; drain. Cool slightly; peel.

a Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine cooked potatoes, granulated sugar, condensed milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, egg, orange peel, orange juice, salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the nutmeg in large bowl; mash with potato masher or beat at medium speed with electric mixer until blended. Spoon into lightly greased 2-quart baking dish.

Stir together remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, flour and 1/3 cup melted butter; sprinkle evenly over sweet potato mixture

Bake 20 minutes; cover with aluminum foil. Continue baking 10 minutes more or until thoroughly heated.



Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Serves: 8-10

Prep. Time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 10 minutes, Total Time: 20 minutes


4 pounds sweet potatoes

(or two bags Ore-Ida Steam n' Mash cut sweet potatoes)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 Tbls. Meijer vanilla extract
1 1/2  teaspoon McCormick® Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® crushed Thyme Leaves or

1/4 tsp. McCormick Herbes de Provence


Wash sweet potatoes and pierce each sweet potato twice with fork so excess steam can escape while cooking.  Microwave on HIGH 5 to 10 minutes or until tender, turning over halfway through cooking.  Let stand 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  Remove skin from the sweet potatoes.

Place sweet potatoes and remaining ingredients in large bowl.  Mash until potato mixture is smooth and well blended.  Serve immediately.

Optional Garnish:  Sprinkle with brown sugar and chopped walnuts before serving.

To Boil Sweet Potatoes:  Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 2-inch chunks.  Place in large saucepan.  Add cold water to cover 1 inch over sweet potatoes.  Bring to boil; cover.  Cook on medium-low heat 20 to 30 minutes or until tender.  Drain.

Approximate Nutrition Info (per serving)

Calories 195, Fat 3.5g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Cholesterol 8 mg, Carb. 38g, Protein 3g, Sodium: 198 mg

Recipe adapted from


Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Serves: 8-10

Reduced-fat sour cream makes these mashed potatoes taste smooth and creamy, like traditional mashed potatoes, without adding all fat and calories.


5 lbs Michigan Russet Potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into 2" cubes

(or two bags Ore-Ida Steam n' Mash cut russet potatoes)

2-3 Tbls. Margarine or butter

1/2 Cup low fat Meijer Milk

2/3 Cup Meijer reduced fat sour cream

1 tsp. Salt

Generous dash of fresh ground black pepper


Place cubed potatoes in 8 quart stock pot.  Add water to cover about 1" above potatoes.  Season with a dash of salt.  Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to a gentle boil and allow potatoes to cook until fork tender (8-10 minutes).

Drain water from potatoes, and return to pan or to a large mixing bowl.  Add margarine, milk, sour cream and salt and pepper to taste.  Using a hand mixer, blend until smooth and creamy (alternately, mash potato mixture with a hand masher).

Helpful hint: Prepare mashed potatoes a day to two in advance.  Store in the refrigerator and reheat, microwaving on high, just before serving.  Allow about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes per pound of potatoes, mix well half way through heating.


Cranberry Walnut Relish


1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 tsp. shredded orange peel (optional)

1 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries

1 medium apple, cored and chopped

1/3 cup orange juice

1/2 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place walnuts in shallow pan. Bake, stirring once, 10 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  2. In large saucepan combine cranberries, apple, sugar, orange peel and juice. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer until cranberries pop, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in walnuts. Transfer to bowl; cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours. Sauce may also be frozen up to 1 month.


Herb Crusted Turkey
Serves 12


12 lb turkey (thawed)

Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
3 sprigs fresh oregano
3 sprigs fresh sage
¼ c Meijer honey
4 firm, ripe medium pears, halved and cored
2 T Meijer olive oil

Note: remember that you may use dried seasonings, just use 1/3 of the quantity of the fresh amounts

1. Preheat oven to 325º F. Season cavity of turkey with salt and pepper. Sprinkle onion, oregano sprigs, and sage sprigs in cavity of bird. If a band of skin crosses the tail, tuck the drumsticks under the band. If there is no band, tie drumsticks securely to tail. Pull turkey neck skin to back; fasten with a short, wooden skewer. Twist wing tips under back. Place bird, breast side up, on a broiler pan or wire rack of roasting pan.
2. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into in center of one of the inside thigh muscles registers 150 degrees F, approximately 2 1/4 hours. Brush turkey with honey and periodically baste turkey with pan juices.
3. Cut band of skin or string between drumsticks so thighs will cook evenly. Arrange pears in bottom of pan around turkey; brush pears with oil. Continue to roast until thermometer registers 180 degrees F, approximately 30 - 45minutes more.
4. Remove turkey from oven. Remove onion and herbs from cavity, if desired. Cover; let stand 15 - 20 minutes.

Nutrition Information per serving:

Calories: 235, Total fat: 5 g, Carbohydrate: 17 g, Fiber: 2 g