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Talking Turkey: Get the Best From Your Bird

Experts offer tips for buying and cooking a tasty turkey
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To Stuff or Not to Stuff?

In many families, stuffing the bird has long been the preferred method of cooking. But the Department of Agriculture advises against this practice because of the risk of food-borne illness.

"It is difficult for the stuffing to reach the internal temperature of 165 degrees even when the meat is done," warns Diane Van, USDA meat and poultry hotline manager.

So instead of putting the stuffing inside the bird, experts advise, cook it separately in a casserole dish.

Cooking Time

The National Turkey Federation and USDA suggest following these guidelines -- along with using a meat thermometer -- when roasting an unstuffed bird:

  • 8-12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours
  • 12-14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours
  • 14-18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
  • 18-20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • 20-24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours

As you prepare for your upcoming celebration, keep these safety and preparation tips in mind to make sure you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday.

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Reviewed on November 10, 2006

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