15 Common Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes

The Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
National Turkey Federation


Thanksgiving is the meal that has it all. Stuffing, sides, pies and, most importantly, turkey! Thanksgiving turkey is not only highly anticipated, but also highly stressed over. After all, the meal really is all about the bird so messing it up isn’t an option.

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Home cooks tasked with the the big day’s big job face lots of pressure to produce a perfect turkey.  Janice Stahl, a five-year expert with the the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, shared that most Americans know the day won't be perfect, but they need the turkey to be. 

“It’s the one thing everyone wants to get right.” Often, though, common mistakes get in the way. “I’ve gotten calls from new brides hiding in the closet because they didn’t want their mother-in-law to know they couldn’t tell when the turkey was done.” Other calls have included "why does this turkey taste like chicken?." 

The season's most common mistakes, though,  include improperly thawing the bird, not sizing correctly and even carving it the wrong way.  "We've heard it all," she says. The hotline has been helping home cooks perfect Thanksgiving for over 30 years. Starting early November and going through December the center takes over 100,000 calls, texts and social media questions focused on cooking the perfect turkey. 

Remember those common mistakes? There are a slew of other basic mistakes that most home cooks make. When there is a lot of food to get on the table and it feels like the pressure is on, here are the most  mistakes made on a Thanksgiving turkey and how to avoid them.

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