Turkey Talk


For me, the holidays are a circle of family, friends, food, and planning. I love the planning as much as the others! No doubt because it allows me to use my overenthusiastic organizational skills.

Yes, I am one of them, who has a menu prepared in advance, a thorough time schedule with cook times, prep times, and timeline. What can I say! I’m also the one that has a vacation itinerary, so it should not surprise anyone too much.

This year I thought it would be fun to share my holiday preparation, menu, and time schedule with you. I hope you find it helpful!

Turkey Facts

If you have not tried a fresh turkey yet you must! It not only saves time it tastes so much better. Just make a call to the meat counter of your favorite grocery, or butcher. If you still prefer the convenience of a frozen turkey allow extra time for thawing and get it in advance. How much in advance depends on the size of the turkey.

Thawing Time – Allow 24 hours thawing time for every 5 pounds.
For safety defrost the turkey in the refrigerator.

POUNDS 15 20 22 30
THAW TIME 3 days 4 days 5 days 6 days
ROAST DAY 11/22/18 11/22/18 11/22/18 11/22/18
THAW DAY 11/19/18 11/18/18 11/17/18 11/16/18

If you brine your turkey add 3 more days to the thaw time. Unwrap the turkey and remove the neck and giblet (reserve for gravy).  Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry.  Prepare the brine.  Add the turkey, cover, and refrigerate 3 days.

Cooking Time – approximately 15 minutes per pound – 325°F Conventional Oven

POUNDS 15 20 22 30
COOK TIME 4 hrs 5 hrs 6 hrs 8 hrs
START TIME: 8:00 AM 7:00 AM 6:00 AM 4:00 AM
FINISH TIME: 12:00 PM 12:00 PM 12:00 PM 12:00 PM

For crisper skin: Remove packing or foil from the turkey the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.

For a moister turkey: Roast the turkey breast side down for 30 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up and continue roasting.

Before removing the turkey from the oven, check the temperature with a meat thermometer, should read 165°F. If done, remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving.


This schedule is assuming you are using a 20-pound turkey.
Adjust times to fit your turkey.
November 14, 2018
Take the turkey out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator to thaw.
November 19, 2018
8:00 AM – Prepare the brine. Let soak in the refrigerator for 3 days.
9:00 AM – Cube the bread for the stuffing and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Let dry out slightly.
November 21, 2018
9:00 AM – Make the desserts.
November 22, 2018 – Thanksgiving Day
6:00 AM – Remove the turkey from the brine; rinse and pat dry.  Make classic Herb flavored butter; reserve 4 tablespoons, then rub the rest under the turkey skin on the breasts and legs.  Rub 2 tablespoons of the reserved butter on the skin; chill and save the rest of the butter for the gravy.  Stuff the turkey with cut onion, celery, thyme, sage, and rosemary.  Tie the legs together with twine. Let the turkey stand 30 minutes at room temperature before roasting.
6:30 AM – While the turkey is resting prepare the stuffing and place in a stand-alone roaster.
7:00 AM – Start roasting the turkey in the oven.
Start roasting the stuffing in the roaster.
10:00 AM – Prepare the brown butter mashed potatoes on the stovetop.  Transfer to a crockpot on warm setting.
– Prepare the chunky pumpkin soup on the stovetop. Transfer to a crockpot on warm setting.
– Prepare and bake the appetizers in the toaster oven.
11:00 AM – Prepare and roast the vegetables. Slide on the top oven tray, or if you are one of the lucky ones use the bottom oven.
– Prepare the Custard Corn Bread. Do not place in the oven yet.
– Plate the desserts.
– Set out the appetizers.
     12:00 PM – Take the turkey out to rest 30 minutes before carving.
                – Place the rolls in the oven.
                – Prepare the gravy.
     12:30 PM – Time to eat.

The success or failure of any dinner party is the timing. Getting everything done at the exact time is a fine dance. Baked goods can be made a day or two early. Appetizers can be prepped and refrigerated up to bake time. Even at that, the oven is in high demand the day of and the turkey takes up most of it. So how do you keep things running smoothly? Plan ahead and use crock pots, roasters, and toaster ovens!

Check out some of my favorite Thanksgiving cooking helpers:

This post may contain affiliate links.

Crock Pot(s) – Look for one with three settings: High, Low, Warm. Place the mashed potatoes, soups, gravy, and side dishes in crock pots freeing up the oven and stove top. The warm is your best friend on big dinner days!

Stand Alone Roasters – Place the carved turkey and ham in roasters on low settings to keep everything warm and delicious while finishing up the last minute items like rolls and gravy and ensuring second helpings are as good as the firsts.

Toaster Oven – Use the toaster oven for golden brown appetizers cooked up in a hurry to keep the hangry at bay while the turkey finishes cooking!

Baster – Keep that turkey moist and wonderful by adding back the baked juices throughout the roasting time!

Meat Thermometer – I love this fork meat thermometer for ease and accurate meat reading. Two thongs are better than one!

Roaster – For a perfectly roasted turkey use a roaster with a rack!

Gravy Fat Separator – Do not throw away all that wonderful turkey juice. This makes the most flavorful gravy. Use a gravy fat separator to remove the unwanted fat leaving the delicious broth!

Tableware – Let your guest know they are special. Think about the table decor and tableware. For tablescape ideas click here!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!– Ella💙


Author: Ella

Just a girl who loves to cook farm-to-fork foods living the dream!

7 thoughts

    1. I think those of us that cook alot have learned the secret to success is organization! High Five my like mind sister!

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