Do-Ahead Bird

Here's an easy way to prepare your holiday turkey in advance.

Thanksgiving dinner is approaching and you’re looking forward to enjoying family and friends. We suggest making your bird early so you can get out of the kitchen and into the living room. Just follow these simple steps…

Roast your turkey using your favorite unstuffed turkey recipe. Or, you can combine a mixture of oil, salt, pepper, rubbed sage and dried thyme, and rub this over the skin of the entire bird.

If desired, fill the turkey cavity with celery, onion and apple quarters. Roast in a 325° F oven until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180° F, and inserted into the breast meat reads 170° F. Approximate roasting times are listed below.

Turkey, Whole, Unstuffed


Cooking Time
(Minutes per Pound)

8 to 12 pounds

15 to 20

12 to 14 pounds

15 to 17

14 to 18 pounds

14 to 16

18 to 20 pounds

13 to 14

20 to 24 pounds

12 to 13-1/2

Remove the turkey from the oven. Let the fully cooked turkey rest for 30 minutes. Slice the warm turkey. Layer the sliced meat into a large casserole, separating the light and dark meat. Refrigerate, uncovered, until fully cooled. Set a timer to remember to cover the meat when fully cooled. Strain the pan drippings into a bowl or saucepan. Refrigerate.

When ready to reheat the refrigerated sliced turkey, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before placing in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of chicken broth or pan drippings over the meat, cover and bake at 350° F for 30-40 minutes or until the temperature of the turkey is 140° F. Meanwhile, skim the fat from your pan drippings and use the drippings to make your favorite gravy.

The turkey will taste as wonderful as freshly made!

Carving A Whole Turkey

  1. Place bird on carving board and remove any stuffing. Holding the end of the drumstick, pull the leg away from the body and cut between the thigh joint and body to remove the entire leg. Repeat with other leg.
  2. To separate the drumstick and thigh, cut through the connecting joint.
  3. Holding the drumstick by the end, slice meat into 1/4-in. slices. Cut thigh meat parallel to the bone into 1/4-in. slices.
  4. Hold the bird with a meat fork and make a deep cut into the breast meat just above the wing area.
  5. Slice down from the top of the breast into the cut made in Step 4. Slice meat 1/4-in. thick. Repeat steps 4 and 5 on the other side of the bird.
  6. To remove wings, cut through the connecting joints by the wing bones and backbone.

Find more Thanksgiving recipes here >

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