The Best Turkey Prep Tips From An Expert - Exclusive

According to Insider, in years past, about 219 million turkeys have been consumed in America, with about 46 million of the birds consumed on Thanksgiving alone. That means that, this holiday, tens of millions of Americans are going to prepare a food they make only once a year. And, as turkeys can take days to thaw, hours to cook, skills to carve, and creativity when it comes to the inevitable (and welcome) leftovers, it's a food that many of us still find downright daunting. 

But, you know what beloved founding father Alexander Hamilton once said, according to the Capital Gazette: "No person should abstain from having turkey on Thanksgiving Day!" So, instead of dreading the oncoming culinary challenge, take some tips from turkey pro Rebecca Welch, senior brand manager from Butterball, who exclusively spoke to Mashed about all things Thanksgiving. Asked for her most important turkey prep tips, Welch replied: "I think the biggest one, the most important one, is definitely plan ahead ... thinking through [to] make sure the turkey is thawed, how you're going to sequence making the different dishes throughout the day ... [and] when you're going to cook the turkey versus your side dishes." 

And, how do you cook said bird and all those side dishes when you have but one oven? "One of the things we recommend is cooking the turkey first," Welch said, "and then you can cover it with foil and towels to keep it warm while you cook the rest of your dishes."

Here's how to thaw that Thanksgiving turkey like a pro

Rebecca Welch, senior brand manager of Butterball, had plenty of other insights to share with Mashed, one of the most important points about the proper thawing of your turkey. "A lot of times, people don't realize that you need to start thawing that frozen turkey three, four days in advance, maybe even up to a week in advance based on the size," she said. "We'll get a lot of questions [from] people realizing that they have a short amount of time and they need to get that turkey thawed quickly."

What to do if you forgot to thaw the anchor of your meal? As Welch recommended, "The cold water bath method is the best way to do it. What you do is you submerge your turkey in cold water, and you'll need about 30 minutes per pound. And then just every 30 minutes, you flip it over, so you're getting equal coverage on the whole turkey. And switch your water out because you don't want the water to get too cold — you need it to just keep being able to help that turkey thaw."

If you need more help, just reach out to the dozens of turkey prep and cooking experts at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. First launched in 1981, the Turkey Talk-Line is now in its 40th year, and it's hardly just a call-in anymore. Today, you can reach out to Butterball experts via text, Twitter, online chat, and even TikTok. They are standing by to field queries on thawing, brining, cook time, carving, leftovers, and more.

Got turkey questions? Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372) or text 844-877-3456, or reach out to Butterball via various social media platforms.