My First Turkey

Hello all,

This is a bonus blog post. While it definitely doesn’t take less than 30 minutes to make a turkey, I enjoyed the challenge and experience enough to want to blog about it!

You’re probably wondering, why is he making a turkey when Thanksgiving isn’t for another few weeks? I’m lucky and grateful to have a great group of friends in Boston, so we held our first annual Friendsgiving! We had a great array of dishes from yams, green bean casserole, and many delicious desserts. As the hosts, my wife and I took on some of the Thanksgiving staples, the turkey and stuffing. This is the first time that I’ve had to cook a turkey, but I’m always up for a challenge. This post is meant to be an end to end guide from buying the turkey, cooking it, and cutting it. It can be the one stop shop post if you’re thinking about making your first turkey!

What You’ll Need

A turkey (about 1 pound per guest)

Roasting pan (we used a disposable aluminum one. Get one with handles!)

A turkey baster

A meat thermometer 

2 cups low sodium chicken stock

Assorted spices (we used dried rosemary, thyme, and garlic)

Olive oil

1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, and 1/2 half onion

A large cutting board

A sharp knife

Buying the Turkey

After doing some research online, I read that you should plan for 1 pound of turkey for each guest. We had 15 guests coming, so we went for a 15 pound turkey from Trader Joe’s. Luckily it wasn’t frozen, which can add a lot of thawing time. When we brought it home, we put it straight in the fridge for 1 day under a dish towel.

Preparing the Turkey

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Take the turkey out of the fridge about 1 hour before you plan on cooking. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of each of your favorite spices. We used rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix it together and pour on top of the turkey. It will drip nicely, but you can also use a cooking brush if you have one to completely coat it.

You will also want to cut the tie from the legs, and remove the bones on the inside. Although it seems gross at first, it winds up being pretty cool! You will also want to check out the other side of the turkey to see if there is any bag to remove.

Fill the roasting pan with 2 cups of the chicken stock. You can then chop up the onion, celery, and carrots, and place them in the roasting pan. Finally, place the turkey in the pan!

When you are ready to put the turkey in the oven, turn down the heat to 325 degrees. How long you cook it depends on the size of the turkey. Our turkey was about 15 pounds, and it cooked for 4 hours. Here is a great guide. You’ll want to time it pretty close to when you will serve the turkey so it doesn’t dry out. If you use the meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 165 degrees in the thickest part of the bird (I checked the thigh).

Cooking the Turkey

Now that the turkey is in the oven, you’ll want to baste it every 30 minutes. You’ll use your turkey baster and use the chicken broth and juice to coat the top of the turkey. This prevents it from drying out.

Once the turkey is done, and the internal temperature is 165 degrees, place the turkey on a large cutting board. You can save the juices to make a homemade gravy if you’re up for it.


Cutting the Turkey

I found this great youtube video to learn how to cut the turkey. In a nutshell, you’ll want to cut out the wishbone, then cut off the thighs, wings, and then cut the meat off the breast. The video can do a way better job at explaining it then I could. As I mentioned, you don’t want to cut the turkey until you are ready to serve.

Most importantly, enjoy the great times with friends and family! No wonder Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays!

Photos courtesy of and

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