9 Thanksgiving Turkey Myths and Facts

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Even though you break out the big bird every year at Thanksgiving, you may not have all the facts straight on preparing turkey.

Myth: It’s OK to Thaw Your Turkey on the Counter

Fact: No, no, NO! It’s important to keep your turkey below 40 degrees at all times to inhibit bacteria growth.

Myth:  It’s Best to Cook Stuffing Inside the Turkey

Fact: Even though grandma swears she never got anyone sick “back in her day,” this practice puts everyone at risk of food poisoning. The reason? By the time the raw turkey juices cook through at the center of your stuffing, the bird itself is way overdone.

Myth: Turkey Makes You Sleepy

Fact: Sorry, it’s probably just because you ate too much! Turkey contains no more of the amino acid tryptophan than other kinds of poultry. In fact, turkey actually has slightly less tryptophan than chicken, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and author of “The Flexitarian Diet.”

Myth: You Should Always Rinse Turkey Before You Cook It

Fact: This old wives’ tale is a definite don’t! Not only is it unnecessary, this practice actually helps spread salmonella and other bacteria all over your sink and kitchen.

Myth: You Don’t Need to Roast on a Rack

Fact: Propping your bird up on a rack will help it cook more evenly by allowing air to flow around it. It also helps prevent the underside from burning and sticking to the pan. Pick up a rack insert and use it all year to roast chicken, too.

Myth: No Need to Truss

Fact: Definitely break out that kitchen twine! Tying the legs together after prepping your turkey will help your turkey cook through evenly.

Myth: You Can Rely on the Pop-Up Thermometer

Fact: Not only are they often inaccurate, they’re set to 180 degrees—which means your turkey will be horribly dried out (165 degrees is best). Instead, invest in a digital meat thermometer with an alert. You can use it throughout the year for roasts and grilling.

Myth: Check Your Turkey’s Temperature in the Juicy Part of the Breast

Fact: You should insert the thermometer at the thickest part of the thigh, as it takes the longest to cook.

Myth: Your Turkey Should Go Straight to the Table, Piping Hot From the Oven

Fact: It’s important to let any meat rest a bit before carving so the juices can redistribute. Tent your turkey with foil for a few minutes while you put out the side dishes.

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