• Allow your turkey to defrost in the refrigerator for the appropriate amount of time before you cook it. An 8 to 12 pound turkey requires about 48 hours in the refrigerator, a 12 to 16 pound turkey takes approximately 72 hours and a turkey between 16 and 20 pounds should be given between 72 and 96 hours to fully defrost.
• Never allow your Thanksgiving turkey to defrost in the sink or on a countertop. This type of defrosting can result in the turkey picking up a lot of bacteria that can be harmful to people. If your turkey still has frozen spots before cooking, allow it to defrost in cold water only for a very short period of time.
• Wash your hands immediately after putting a turkey in the oven. Wash any utensils that you used in the preparation of the turkey thoroughly as well.
• Make sure the temperature of the turkey is between 180 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the thigh before taking it out of the oven. Use a quality instant-read thermometer to take this heat measurement instead of relying on an inconsistent meat thermometer that comes with the turkey.
• Remove the skin from the turkey to reduce fat before eating. You should also skim gravy if you make it yourself to remove excess fat for a healthier meal.
• Use cooking oils like extra virgin olive oil or canola oil instead of butter whenever possible. They still contain fat, but the fats in extra virgin olive oil and canola oil are healthier than the animal fats in butter.