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12 Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes Everyone Makes

Stop basting your turkey!

Andrew Richard

Roasting a turkey can be intimidating, especially if it's your first time.


So BuzzFeed Food talked to turkey-cooking expert Beth Somers (who has been working the Butterball Talk-Line for five years) to see what the most common mistakes first-time roasters make.

So here are 11 of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. You wait too long to buy your turkey.

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"Turkeys are widely available right now, and have been for a week or so," says Somers. If you wait too long, you'll run the risks of not being able to find one as well as not having enough time to thaw it properly. National thaw day is Thursday the 16th (yep, it's a real thing), so buying it a week ahead of time is not uncommon.

2. You don't realize that some turkeys are already brined.

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Many turkeys are already injected with solutions that keep them nice and juicy, so brining isn't necessary. While you can brine your turkey, it really won't do much for the final product — so skip the brine and focus on the potatoes this year.

3. You let your turkey come to room temperature because that's what you've been told to do.

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Some people claim that bringing a turkey up to room temperature helps cook it evenly, but experts disagrees. "That's bogus," says Somers, "it's not going to do anything for you." Not only is it a waste of time, but leaving raw turkey at room temperature can also pose a health risk. This Thanksgiving, be safe and go straight from fridge to oven.

4. You don't dry the outside of your turkey.

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"This will help get the skin crispy," says Somers. Simply give your turkey a quick pat down with paper towels before putting it in the oven, and your skin will come out nice and crispy.

5. You forget to take the giblets out.

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Make sure you look inside the cavity of your turkey. Many turkeys contain a small bag of giblets (which include the heart, gizzards, and liver) that need to be taken out. Luckily, Butterball giblet bags are oven-safe, so if you do leave them in, you're OK — but not all brands are like this.

Once they're out, feel free to discard them, or turn them into something delicious like homemade giblet gravy. Get the recipe here.

6. You don't elevate your turkey as it roasts.

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Using a roasting rack ($12.64 on Amazon) elevates your turkey and helps the heat get all the way around it. If you don't own one, no sweat. "You can make a simple one by using coils of bunched up tin foil formed into a ring," shares Somers, "or you can just use vegetables — anything that lets the heat circulate."

7. Your skin gets too dark.

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"This is a common problem," says Somers, "and the easiest way to avoid it is to cook your turkey at an even 325°F the entire time." This will make sure your turkey is cooked all the way through without browning too quickly.

Check out even more tips for perfectly roasting your turkey here.

8. You waste your time basting it.

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"Basting is bogus, there's no reason to baste a turkey," says Somers. "Think of the skin as a raincoat ― your basting liquid will roll right off." Opening the oven to baste your turkey lets a lot of heat out and can actually significantly slow down the cooking process.

9. You carve into it as soon as it comes out of the oven.

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Before you carve into your turkey, let it rest for 20-30 minutes. This way, the juices will have time to redistribute and make sure your turkey is nice and juicy. It might be tempting to cut into it right away, but hold off and give it some time.

10. You check the temperature of the breast instead of the thigh.

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Breasts cook much faster than thighs, and taking the temperature might accidentally make you take the turkey out before it's fully cooked. Instead, make sure you take the temperature from the thickest part of the thigh. Thighs take the longest to cook, so once they're done, your turkey is good to go.

11. You store leftover turkey on the bones.

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"This is not the safest way to store leftovers," says Somers. The meat can't cool off fast enough when it's on the bones, so it lingers in the temperature danger zone for far too long. Instead, cut any leftover turkey off the carcass before you store it in the fridge and you'll be A-OK.

Have even more turkey questions? Contact Butterball yourself here.