Healthy Living Blog

Thanksgiving Turkey 3-Ways

Tina Miller, MS RDN Healthy Living Advisor,


Tina Miller 2011No matter how you slice it, Americans love turkey!  This Thanksgiving we’ll cook more than 45 million turkeys.  How will you prepare yours?  Use these tips and recipes to add flavor and variety to your Thanksgiving Day.
Turkey Q&A: 

  1. How much to buy?  Purchase 1 lb. per guest, 1 1/2 lbs. if you want leftovers.
  2. What about a large group with lots of white meat eaters?  Buy 1 whole small to medium turkey plus one bone-in turkey breast.
  3. Defrosting:  Plan 1 day (24 hours) for each 4-5 lbs. of frozen turkey (a 20 pound turkey will take about 4 days to thaw).  Thawed turkeys will     keep 3 days in the refrigerator once thawed.  Fresh turkeys – check use by date.
  4. How long to cook?  Roasting at 325 degrees, unstuffed turkey need about 12-14 minutes per pound (fresh turkeys may cook quicker, 10-12 minutes per pound).   Stuffed turkey 16-20 minutes per pound. (A 20 lb. turkey unstuffed: 4 to 4 ¾ hours; stuffed 5 to 6 hours).*Deep frying: 3-4 minutes per pound.
  5. When is it done? Temperature at thickest point between thigh and breast reaches 175-180 degrees. Breast meat reaches 165 degrees.
  6. How do I get a crispy brown, not dry turkey? Cook with breast loosely covered by foil for the first 2/3 of roasting time.  Remove foil and continue cooking, basting every 20 minutes until done.
  7. How do I keep the juices from leaking out when carving?  Let the turkey “rest” 20 minutes before carving to allow juice to set into meat.


Savory Herb Rub Roasted Turkey

Recipe source:


Serves 12




2         Tablespoons Sage, rubbed

1         Tablespoons Paprika

1         Tablespoons Seasoned Salt

2         Teaspoons True Goodness® by Meijer™ Organic Garlic powder

1         Teaspoons Black pepper, ground

3/4      Teaspoons True Goodness® by Meijer™ Organic Nutmeg, ground

1         Whole turkey, fresh or frozen, thawed

1         Yellow onion, large, cut into wedges

6         Bay leaves

1         Tablespoons Vegetable oil

Sprinkle Bay leaves, for serving



  1. Place oven rack in lowest position. Preheat oven to 325 F. Place roasting rack in shallow roasting pan. Mix sage, paprika, seasoned salt, garlic powder, pepper and nutmeg in small bowl.
  2. Place turkey, breast-side up, in prepared pan. Sprinkle about 1/2 of the seasoning mixture inside turkey. Stuff with onion and bay leaves. Brush turkey breast with oil. Spread remaining seasoning mixture over entire surface and under skin of turkey. Add 1/2 cup water to pan. Cover turkey loosely with heavy duty foil.
  3. Roast 1 hour. Remove foil. Roast 2 to 2 1/2 hours longer or until internal temperature reaches 165°F (175°F in thigh), basting occasionally with pan juices.
  4. Remove turkey from oven. Let stand 20 minutes. Transfer to platter or carving board to slice. Reserve pan juices to make gravy or to serve with turkey.

Herb & Citrus Brine Turkey
Serves: 12-16
8 cups water
3/4 cup Kosher salt
3/4 cup True Goodness® by Meijer™ Organic cane sugar
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic, halved
1 Tbsp. McCormick Fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp. McCormick poultry seasoning
4 cups apple juice
2 cups orange juice
1 (12-14 lb.) whole turkey, thaw if frozen
1 Heavy duty brining bag (or, 2 oven roasting bags—place one bag inside other to “double bag”)
2-3 Tbsp. True Goodness® by Meijer™ Organic butter, softened.


  1. In a large stock pot, add water, salt, sugar, lemons, rosemary, thyme, garlic, pepper and poultry seasoning.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil, dissolving salt and sugar. Remove from heat.
  2. Add apple and orange juice to water brine and mix well.  Cool to room temperature.
  3. Remove giblets from turkey and set aside.  Place turkey in brining bag, add brining liquid and seal bag tightly.  Place bagged turkey, breast side down, in a roasting pan or on a rimmed sheet pan and refrigerate for 8 hours to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Remove turkey from brine, pat dry and place in roasting pan.
  6. Rub outside of turkey, and breast underneath skin with softened butter (using about 2 – 3 Tbsp.).  Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cover breast meat loosely with foil.  Roast 2 hours; remove foil and continue roasting uncovered, basting every 15 – 20 minutes, for approximately one more hour until done (internal temperature reaches 175-180 degrees between thigh and breast).
  8. Remove from oven.  Allow to stand 20 minutes before carving (cover with foil to keep warm).

 Deep Fried Turkey


  • Smaller turkeys are better (15 pounds and under). Larger turkeys can be cut into sections (leg with thigh, breast; fry dark meat first).
  • Use outdoor turkey fryers outdoors only. Place on a grassy, dirt or concrete level surface away from your home. Do not leave unattended.
  • Indoor Electric fryers may be used indoors on countertops or outdoors in covered areas.
  • Turkey must be completely thawed and dry.
  • Preheat oil to 375-400⁰F. Carefully lower turkey into fryer
  • Cooking time: whole birds 3-4 minutes/pound; parts 4-5 minutes/pound.
  • Use a high-heat oil. Peanut oil work well and is popular.
  • Cook dark meat to internal temperature of 175⁰F, white meat to 165-170⁰F
  • Let stand 10-15 minutes before carving. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
  • Properly cooked turkeys will not absorb excess fat from deep frying and can be a delicious and healthy choice.

Ginger and Rosemary Deep Fried Turkey

Recipe by: The National Turkey Federation,

Serves 12


1 WHOLE TURKEY, non-self-basting: 10 to 12 Pound

1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, crushed

6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled

1/4 cup fresh garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

4 to 5 Gallons Peanut oil (see note)


Remove the giblets and neck, rinse the turkey well with cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Take care to dry both inside cavities. Fill the cavity with ginger, rosemary and garlic cloves.

Mix together minced garlic, salt and pepper and rub on the exterior of the bird. To allow for good oil circulation through the cavity, do not truss or tie legs together. Cut off the wing tips and plump tail as they may get caught in the fryer basket. Marinate in refrigerator for about 1 hour.

Place the OUTDOOR gas burner on a level dirt or grassy area. Never fry a turkey indoors, in a garage or in any structure attached to a building. Do not fry on wood decks, which could catch fire, or concrete, which could be stained by the oil. (Safety tip: have a fire extinguisher nearby for added safety.)

Add oil to a 10+ gallon pot with a basket or rack. At the medium-high setting, heat the oil to 375 degrees F, (depending on the amount of oil, outside temperature and wind conditions, this should take about 40+ minutes).

Meanwhile, remove the ginger, rosemary and garlic from the cavity. Place the turkey in a basket or on a rack, neck down.

When the oil temperature registers 375 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer, slowly lower the turkey into the hot oil. The level of the oil will rise due to the frothing caused by the moisture from the turkey but will stabilize in about one minute. (Safety tips: to prevent burns from the splattering oil wear oven mitts/gloves, long sleeves, heavy shoes and even glasses. It is wise to have two people lowering and raising the turkey.)

Immediately check the oil temperature and increase the flame so the oil temperature is maintained at 350 degrees F. If the temperature drops to 340 degrees F or below, oil will begin to seep into the turkey.

Fry about 3-4 minutes per pound, or about 35-42 minutes for a 10-12 pound turkey. Stay with the cooker at all times as the heat must be regulated.

When cooked to 170 degrees F in the breast or 180 degrees F in the thigh, carefully remove the turkey from the hot oil. Allow the turkey to drain for a few minutes. (Safety tip: allow the oil to cool completely before storing or disposing.)

Remove turkey from the rack and place on a serving platter. Allow to stand for 20 minutes before carving.

NOTE: Use only oils with high smoke points, such as peanut, canola or safflower oil. To determine the correct amount of oil, place the turkey in the pot before adding seasoning and add water until turkey is covered. Take turkey out of the water before marking the oil level. Measure the amount of water and use a corresponding amount of oil.

Dry the pot thoroughly of all water.