Turkey Express: Your Questions Answered

Turkey time is right around the corner. Don’t wing it! Here are some questions and answers to get you warmed up for the season.

Can you make a turkey in an air fryer?

Looking down at a table with multiple dishes made for Thanksgiving
Photo by A. Nikolai



Yes, as long as it fits. I found a lot of recipes online, especially for the turkey breast, but I wondered about the whole bird. I called the Instant Pot company, who also make air fryers, and the representative who answered said that as long is it fits, it could be cooked in the air fryer. (Disclaimer: I didn’t call all the companies that make air fryers so some may have different results.) Here is a recipe on the Instant Pot website for using an air fryer: https://recipes.instantpot.com/recipe/vortex-plus-herb-roasted-turkey-breast/  Great way to free up the oven!

Can you make a turkey in an Instant pot?

Yes, as long as it fits (yes, I asked the Instant Pot people this one too). After reading multiple recipes, I’ve concluded this sounds like a really tender and juicy option! Some recipes suggest taking it out of the Instant Pot after cooking and broiling the turkey in the oven for more crispy skin. Here is a recipe on the Instant Pot website (says works for bone-in or boneless turkey breast up to 7 pounds): https://recipes.instantpot.com/recipe/turkey-breast-and-mashed-potatoes/

Should you wash your raw turkey?

No, you should not wash your raw turkey. You should not wash your raw chicken either. Federal food safety recommends against washing turkey or chicken; poultry juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops. It is safer to kill bacteria by cooking it.

How do you know when the turkey is done?

A turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the temperature in a couple spots, including the thickest part of the turkey. Be sure not to touch the bone with the tip of the thermometer because the bone conducts heat faster than meat and might indicate the bird is a higher temperature.

Should you trust the pop-up thing on the bird?

Roasted turkey starting to be carved
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash



Pop-up timers may occasionally pop up before the bird has reached an internal temperature of 165°F. Always use a thermometer to check the internal temperature to make sure it is at 165°F.

How big of a turkey do I need to feed everyone?

The general rule is to plan for 1 ½ pounds per person. If you are buying boneless meat, assume about 8 ounces per person.

Can you thaw the turkey on the counter?

Nope, you must thaw it at a safe temperature. Germs grow rapidly between 40°F and 140°F (this range is known as the “danger zone”) so when a turkey stays out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, its temperature becomes unsafe even if the center is still frozen. You don’t want to add more bacteria to the bird.

If I can’t thaw it on the counter, how can I thaw it?

  • In the refrigerator -allow 24 hours for each 4-5 pounds of turkey. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days before cooking.
  • In cold water -must cook immediately after thawing.
  • In the microwave -must cook immediately after thawing.
For details on these methods: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/holiday-turkey.html#:~:text=Cook%20Turkey%20Thoroughly,-To%20roast%20a&text=Use%20a%20food%20thermometer%20to%20make%20sure%20the%20turkey%20has,breast%2C%20thigh%2C%20and%20wing.

I ran out of time. Can I cook the turkey from frozen?

Good news! You can! However, it will take longer than a fresh or thawed bird, and it would be ideal to remove the giblets after the turkey is defrosted (which means you
Nuts and cocoa nibs shaped like a turkey
Fun idea! Turkey made with seeds and chocolate! Photo by No Revisions on Unsplash



would have to remove it with tongs at some point during the cooking process). To cook a turkey from frozen, it takes 50 percent longer. Here is a helpful calculator: https://www.butterball.ca/turkey-calculator/ (Click the “Cook from Frozen” option in the “How Long to Cook” section.)  

What are some turkey jokes that I can use to change the subject during dinner?

  1. Why did turkey say no to dessert? He said he was already stuffed.
  2. Have you heard about turkey’s new phone ringtone? It’s WingWingWing!
  3. What’s turkey’s favorite song? “I’m all about that baste”.
  4. When are the turkeys the most grateful? The day after Thanksgiving.
For more info: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/family-resources/food-safety-for-the-holidays-turkey/ https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/holiday-turkey.html
Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert Note: All images and contents are the property of UF/IFAS.
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