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Where do you put the thermometer in a turkey?

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When it comes to cooking a turkey, one of the most important things to keep in mind is its internal temperature. Specifically, you need to make sure the turkey is cooked all the way through – not over- or under-cooked. So, where do you put the thermometer in turkey?

The photo of a person putting a meat thermometer into a roasted turkey.

The holiday season is the time when people cook their best turkey recipes. It’s not only about food, but also about family & friends gatherings, parties, and celebrations. This is why we love cooking our best dishes on these special days.

While there are many turkey recipes out there, for different tastes and more traditional or not, all of them have this feature: all the turkeys are cooked all the way through, so make certain that your turkey is thoroughly cooked and shiny!

What tools do I need to gauge the right temperature?

In order to accurately measure the right temperature when cooking turkey, you need an instant-read meat thermometer or an oven-proof thermometer. Both of them work great, but as a friend of mine says, the best cooking thermometer is the one that you already own 😊 so let’s get going with this guide, we’ll cover all the possibilities!

Oven-proof meat thermometer, a tool  to check the temperature when cooking turkey.

What is the safe temperature for turkey?

Cooking meat is a very important part of preparing a Thanksgiving feast. When cooking a raw turkey, it is important to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness.

The safe temperature for turkey is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure that your turkey is roasted to perfection, use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature.

The recommended cooking time is about 20 minutes per pound of the unstuffed turkey, depending on the weight, the bird will be ready in 3 to 5 hours – add 20-30 more minutes to the cooking time if you use stuffing.

Source USDA Flickr Image

Where to put the thermometer in the turkey?

How do you know if your turkey is cooked, using a meat thermometer? It’s simple. There are a few key places to check to know when your turkey is done.

There are different viewpoints on placing the thermometer in a turkey. Some people believe that the best spot to put the digital thermometer is in the turkey’s breast meat. Other people believe that the best place, to put the oven-safe leave-in thermometer in turkey is, in the thigh.

Others would use both, but in our experience, and the fact that digital instant read thermometers are nowadays more and more accurate, it’s enough to use one of the two, whichever you have.

Inserting a thermometer into a turkey takes some practice. It’s best to use a digital thermometer so you can see how close your target temperature is. You may want to place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, not near the bone. This will give you a better reading.

Once your turkey has been cooked to the correct temperature, you can serve it up hot and fresh. Make sure to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving feast!

Suggested turkey recipe

Best place to put a thermometer in the turkey

The best place to insert a food thermometer in a turkey is in the thickest part of the bird. This will ensure that the temperature reading is accurate. Insert the thermometer into the breast, turkey thigh, or even the inner wing. Make sure that the cooking thermometer is not touching bone or cartilage.

If you want the shiniest turkey for your Thanksgiving day, ensure to measure the temperature at intervals of 15 minutes and in many areas of the bird.

If you’re not cooking the whole turkey, it’s even easier to measure the internal temp! When the meat thermometer shows 165 F, your bird is ready!

Before carving you can apply some aluminum foil to the turkey for 30 minutes so that the meat would become tender, juicier & more flavorful.

If you are worried about overcooking the thigh while the turkey breast is not done, then check the internal temp in the thigh meat. By following our tips, you can be sure that your cooked turkey will be perfect this Thanksgiving.

An image showing a Thanksgiving dinner table.

No meat thermometer? Use this method to see if your turkey is cooked.

The fork test is a great way to check if the turkey is done without a food thermometer. Simply insert a fork into the thickest part of the turkey breast and pull it out. If the tines come away clean, the bird is ready. Make sure the turkey is fully cooked and safe for your family to eat, by checking in several spots.

This method will help you quickly test the doneness, but a meat thermometer is the most reliable method – from a food safety perspective. Ensure the bird is fully thawed before you begin cooking to ensure the turkey will be evenly cooked.

Enjoy some of our Thanksgiving recipes

Spicy Sweet Potato, Coconut and Chili Soup

Honey Sriracha Brussels Sprouts

Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potato

Thanksgiving Chicken Recipe (with Gravy)

Creamy Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup

Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs

Creamy Philadelphia Pumpkin Cheesecake (No-Bake)

So, what is the best place to put the thermometer in turkey? Ultimately, it is up to you.

I hope that our quick guide is helping you make the best turkey recipe for Thanksgiving! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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