That’s the question this afternoon as millions of turkeys emerge from ovens around the world. According to the USDA, a whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. To check the internal temperature, poke your meat thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. (They note that for reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.) The USDA also recommends that if your turkey has a pop-up thermometer, you still take your own temperature as a precaution if you’re able. Once it’s cooked, the drumstick should move easily in its socket and the juices from the thigh will run clear. If your turkey is stuffed, the internal temperature of the stuffing should also read 165°F – if it’s not quite up there, transfer it to a baking dish and pop it in the oven until it’s cooked through.
Once you’ve ensured your turkey is sufficiently cooked, let the turkey rest, loosely covered in foil, for 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute through the meat. (This will give you just enough time to make your gravy!) Cutting into your turkey immediately will allow the internal juices, which are still in motion, to gush out, making your meat dry.
Need to know how to carve your turkey? Here’s a series of video tutorials.
Check out the USDA webpage – Let’s Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey – for everything you want to know about your Thanksgiving turkey and then some.
Still have questions? The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline can personally answer your food safety questions on weekdays year-round. Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at: 1-888-MPHotline or 1-888-674-6854.
Photo credit: istockphoto/photo4u2