15 mistakes to avoid so you don't screw up the turkey this Thanksgiving

Too dry, too hot, too cold, too briny -- no pressure, but you don't want to make these mistakes if you're in charge of cooking the bird

November 20, 2018

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I'm definitely not an accomplished cook. I can handle burgers or salmon on the grill, or make an epic salad, or whip up mac 'n' cheese for my son with my eyes closed. But a Thanksgiving turkey? I'll gladly eat it, and I can even handle a knife well enough to carve it if necessary, but taking full responsibility for successfully cooking the bird? No thanks. I don't need that pressure. 

But if you're taking on that responsibility, let me share some tips that seem pretty helpful as far as achieving turkey perfection. You probably know many of these already, but it's good to run down the basics before you make a rookie mistake and ruin your turkey-cooking cred.

A cooking website called My Recipes has a great list of the 15 Most Common Mistakes People Make Cooking a Turkey. They say:

 . . . Turkey has  . . .  managed to become the most stressful—and even feared—dish you’ll prepare over the entire holiday season. After all, the turkey is a big, sensitive bird prone to either undercooking or overcooking, resulting in something either downright dangerous or completely dried out and inedible. And whether you’re preparing your first ever turkey dinner, or have been battling the bird for years with little success, keeping mind of these common mistakes will help you have your most successful Thanksgiving ever, leaving your guests asking for seconds and thirds of the dinner’s main event.

Some of the mistakes they warn you about: Not bringing the turkey up to room temperature before you cook it. Over brining your turkey. Over-cooking, Under-cooking. Not using a meat thermometer, or, if you do use one, not putting it in the right spot. Whew. There's more, but you can just check the tips yourself here.

On behalf of all your fellow Thanksgiving dinner guests, thank you for making the effort to cook a perfect bird. Save me some white meat!