Cook the turkey to 165 degrees F. OK, but...

…it’s 170 degrees here, 165 degrees there, but just 156 degrees here.

I assume I wait until *all *temps are at least 165, but doesn’t that overcook/dry out some portions of the bird?

Is there a way around this?

Cooking it in an oven bag will help keep the temperature relatively uniform. And if parts do end up a bit dry, well, that’s what gravy is for. So long as the gravy is good, you can get away with almost anything.

You can also cover the breast with foil to help it cook a bit slower than the dark meat. Normally the deep thigh is the last thing to reach temperature, so the breast is what you are concerned with getting over-cooked.

You can always cover it with foil to stop the outer bits drying out. And baste baste baste.

Or try turning it over

Let it rest plenty when you take it out, it will be less tough that way.

I recently read, from a reputable source, to roast to 151F and let carry-over do the rest for about an hour. I think 165 is way too done and is erring on the side of paranoia.

Handy tip- for a less dry breast, cook upside down (breast down) for 2/3rd of the time.

Then right side up for browning.

Probably too late, but there are lots of different ways around this:

  1. The aforementioned foiling the breasts.
  2. Spatchcocking (butterflying) the turkey and cooking flat.
  3. Icing the breast (you can use frozen gel packs on plastic bags) for a few hours before cooking, so they start at a cooler temperature.

America’s Test Kitchen and Serious Eats are both strongly against basting. From ATK’s twitter:

While some people will swear up and down that you have to baste because that’s the way I learned it and there is no room for improving what I learned, I’ll go with the people who subject hundreds of turkeys to the scientific method for determining these things.

My thing is no bloody juice at the joint. Then- its done. Dont overcook or it *will *be dry, and remember, the bird will cook for 10-15 minutes after you take it out of the oven.

I have a recipe that calls for cutting the turkey into parts before cooking it. Take off the skin, then separate into wings, thigh/leg, and breasts. Put the two breasts together, wrap with the skin, and tie with twine. Then roast, and take the pieces out when they reach their correct temperature.

I’ve made it and it has turned out well.

I agree that 165 is paranoia. A goose is still good at that temp. But a turkey is overdone.

This is really how you should do it, but Americans are willing to risk ruining most of the meat in exchange for the “presentation” of a whole bird.

As a point of fact, I did cover the breast with foil. Did not do any of the other suggestions, though.

It actually came out beautifully. I am going to try the oven bag next year, however.

Also, I’ve decided I should go with two smaller birds instead of the 26-pounder I wrestled with yesterday. Maybe that will help.


I looked into it further with the Food Lab folks. Their recommendation is to cook to 145-150 and hold at that temperature for a minimum of 15 minutes. This is what I did this year, and let it rest for over an hour. Very juicy and tasty and totally cooked through. No basting, no inverting of the bird, no bags, no other silliness. I did a dry brine overnight, which resulted in a very crisp skin.