We're all experiencing a year of firsts. For some, it'll be the first year spending time apart from family over Thanksgiving. Personally, I've seen three of the four Thanksgiving celebrations I was planning to attend, cancel this year.

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So, like many Minnesotans, I'll be preparing my own Thanksgiving meal this year. I'm actually a little excited but pretty nervous about how it will turn out. I've watched several videos online, consulted my mom and grandma like 5 times...and I think I've got this.

Some people get fancy with their turkeys and smoke them, fry them, stuff them and all kinds of other things. This is a simple way to cook a turkey with your oven. If you want to get crazy with things, we wish you the best of luck...but, you're on your own. Here's what you should know if you're cooking a turkey yourself this holiday.

First, it sounds way more complicated than it actually is. I'm not sure why it's so intimidating--especially since I'm a pro at cooking other meats, like roasts and chicken. Without further ado...here we go, friends.

  • Thaw out your turkey for a few days before you're ready to actually cook it. No, you can't just throw it into the oven as a frozen bird. I'm told this is a HUGE NO NO. The turkey won't cook properly and you risk getting food poisoning. They say you need to thaw your turkey in the fridge for 24 hours for every 5 pounds it is. So, a smaller 12-15 pound turkey will need about 3 days in the fridge.
  • My grandma told me she will brine her turkey the day before Thanksgiving in salt water. You don't have to do this, but it makes the turkey moist.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and then when you put the turkey in the oven, drop the temperature to 350 degrees for the remaining time.
  • If you're wondering how long you should keep your turkey in the oven...they say you'll want to plan for about 13-15 minutes for each pound your turkey weighs. A 12 to 15 pound turkey will need anywhere from 2.6 hours to about 4 hours.
  • When in doubt about if the turkey is cooked enough...check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It should be 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. Make sure you have a meat thermometer. The extra few bucks will be worth it if it means saving you and your family from food poisoning.

You should let your turkey sit for a bit before you're ready to serve it up, like 10 minutes or so.  Here's a pro-tip...save the turkey drippings...you can use them to make some really good turkey gravy.

We hope it all works out for you this holiday. If not, Whole Foods is running a turkey insurance program this holiday and we think most pizza places will be open for delivery.

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