Cooking Questions: Chicken and Turkey Article -
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Cooking Questions: Chicken and Turkey

Browse our collection of frequently asked cooking questions for advice on preparing chicken and turkey.

How do I roast a whole chicken?

For best results, set the bird on a roasting rack over a roasting pan. The chicken will cook more evenly and won’t be sitting in its own drippings, which will give you crispier skin. For easier cleanup, line the pan with aluminum foil. See our article on roasting chicken for more info:

How do I cut a whole chicken into smaller parts?

This is a terrific, economical skill to learn! Whole chicken is cheaper than buying pieces, and the leftover parts of a deboned chicken are perfect for soup stocks. Once you've got the hang of it, you can cut up a chicken in no time. To cut up a chicken, follow these simple step-by-step directions:

How can I prevent my chicken from being dry?

Dry and/or tough chicken is most often caused by overcooking. Recipes often give cooking times, but these are really guidelines.

A few things can affect cooking time. For example, thin pieces of meat will cook more quickly than thick. Heat settings can vary from stove to stove. And even the size and shape of the pan can affect the cooking time. The best way to avoid overcooking is to check your chicken regularly as it cooks.

How long can I keep raw or cooked chicken? What are the best storage methods?

Raw chicken should be stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator and used within 2 days. Freeze any chicken that won't be used within 2 days.

Frozen chicken can be stored in the freezer for up to one year without sacrificing quality.

A whole cooked chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 days; cut-up cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days. Cooked chicken should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

How do I cook a turkey?

First remove the giblets. Next, rinse the bird inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels. If you are stuffing the bird, stuff loosely, allowing about 1/2 to 3/4 cup per pound of bird. Brush the skin with melted butter or oil. Tuck the drumsticks under the folds of skin or tie together with string. Lastly, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should point towards the body, and should not touch the bone. Place the bird on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven. The turkey is ready when the thermometer reads 180 degrees F, about 11-12 minutes per pound. See our article on roasting turkey for more info:

How big should my turkey be?

Count on 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of turkey (bone-in, whole turkey weight) for each guest, depending whether you want plenty of leftovers or just a few. (If you have lots of guests to feed, consider buying two medium-sized turkeys rather than one giant--the cooking time will be shorter.)

How do I thaw my turkey?

The best way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator. Allow one day for every five pounds of turkey. A quicker way is to thaw the turkey in a cold water bath. This will take about 30 minutes per pound. The water should be running, or changed frequently to prevent freezing. You may also use a combination of these methods. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature.

Can I roast my turkey the day before Thanksgiving, and reheat it?

No. Partially roasting a turkey the day before to save on cooking time the next day creates the perfect environment for bacterial growth. That said, you can carve the fully cooked bird and layer the meat in a baking dish for re-heating. Seal the baking dish with foil to reduce moisture loss. Since breast meat has a greater tendency to dry out, place it on the bottom of the dish and cover it with gravy if you like, or perhaps a small amount of turkey stock.

What is the best way to store cooked turkey meat?

As mentioned above, layer the meat in a baking dish and seal it with foil to reduce moisture loss. Since breast meat has a greater tendency to dry out, place it on the bottom of the dish and cover it with gravy if you like, or perhaps a small amount of turkey stock. Cooked turkey will last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. 

You can also freeze turkey. Sealed in an airtight plastic wrapping or freezer bag, turkey can be frozen for up to four months. Freezing turkey with gravy, will help it retain moisture better.

Thaw frozen turkey overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on your microwave. When thawing foods in the microwave, they should be cooked immediately afterwards. When re-heating turkey meat, be sure to heat it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (70 degrees C). 

How do I deep fry a turkey?

Deep-frying a whole turkey is messy and presents some hazards. So it's always done outdoors. There is some special equipment you need in order to take on this project, and we recommend that you don't attempt this without the right tools. You will need a heavy-duty portable propane burner and a very large stockpot (26 to 40 quart capacity) or a custom-made turkey-frying pot to begin with. For more information, read the in-depth article:

How do I smoke a turkey?

Smoking a turkey is easy provided you have the right equipment. The right equipment, in this case, is a smoker. Smokers allow you to carefully regulate the temperature, which is vital when cooking a large beast over a long period of time. It's possible to smoke a turkey using a charcoal grill, but only if you're prepared to get comfortable next to the barbeque and watch it constantly for the better part of a day.

Sep. 7, 2009 1:44 pm
Are chicken stock and chicken broth the same thing
Sep. 30, 2009 3:31 pm
Peggy- chicken stock is simmered with vegetables and has a stronger, more robust flavor. I use it instead of broth when I cook rice. Broth has a lighter flavor and color and is (I believe) made just with chicken and sometimes salt. They can be used interchangeably but you may want to reduce stock and add water if a recipe calls for broth. If it calls for stock you can add more flavor in all kinds of ways but it may take longer.
Nov. 30, 2009 1:18 pm
When cooking chicken marsala, do I USE DRY OR SWEET WINE.
Dec. 20, 2009 12:54 am
Had to cancel a pre Christmas party due to heavy snow and have been left with a large freshly cooked Turkey Crown. Needed to know if the surplus could be frozen.Thanks for the answer.
Dec. 20, 2009 2:32 pm
Hi, Simon! Bummer about your party -- and about the Turkey. I usually carve turkey into quarters and freeze them separately. It makes it easier to thaw and slice. (Stays moister and fresher unsliced.) "What is the best way to store cooked turkey?" above says that frozen turkey will keep for four months. Have fun using your turkey!
Feb. 11, 2010 7:01 am
I would like to ask you 2 questions and I sure need the answers - that I don't know. 1. Can you save chicken stock? If so, for how long? 2. Isn't it better to use breasts of chicken with skin and ribs to get shredded cooked chicken breasts? If I'm wrong on this one, please let me know. Thank You,
Bowlin' granny 
Apr. 14, 2010 8:01 pm
Jun. 3, 2010 10:58 am
I would love to take advantage of cost savings by purchasing bigger quantities, but there are only two of us in the household. Can Chicken Salad, be frozen and used later??
nana 13 
Aug. 22, 2010 9:08 am
can you tell me what are the substitutionraatio of sugar -splenda
Sep. 6, 2010 11:03 pm
nana cup of sugaris equal to one cup of splenda or other off brand type sweeteners like it. you can find recipes also at that are diabetic friendly.
Sep. 19, 2010 2:08 pm
i baked chicken legs and cut into them afterwards and there was black stuff smeared on i boiled them instead and the black stuff was coming out of it..what is this stuff,do you just scrape it off and eat the chicken?
Sep. 23, 2010 5:59 pm
Debbie, the black stuff you are referring to is bone marrow. Many people eat marrow, it's fine to scrape off if you'd like.
Nov. 13, 2010 10:23 pm
I plan to brine my turkey for Thanksgiving. After I take it from the brine am I supposed to rinse the turkey before drying?
Nov. 22, 2010 9:39 am
realdish, everything I've read says pat dry, but do not rinse after brining. Good luck
Nov. 25, 2010 7:54 am
Should I add turkey stock to the turkey if i am using an oven bag?
Nov. 25, 2010 9:37 pm
to realdish. Try this the next time you use a brine, and I swear you will love the results and you will never do it differently! 1st measure the amount of water you need to completely cover your dish before you mix the brine. Then take about 1/4th of the water and slowly simmer the salt until it completely dissolves into to water. Then pour the remaining cold water with ice in it to bring the temperature of the solution down to about 40 degrees before you place your meat into the brine. Brining actually makes your meat more moist by the salt opening the pours of the meat and allowing it to absorb the water. If the salt is not completely dissolved before you brine the water will not be able to penetrate as deep into the meat. Additionally, if you want to add more flavor to your meat, you can add fresh herbs, spices and other ingredients during the slow simmer. This will help get those fragrant flavors deep into the meat before you cook. ***TIP*** always pat dry with paper towels the ent
gwendolyn aldridge 
Dec. 11, 2010 5:12 am
how long can a thawed turkey stay in the fridgerator before is goes bad and can not be cooked
gwendolyn aldridge 
Dec. 11, 2010 5:16 am
how long can a thawed turkey stay in the fridgerator before is goes bad and can not be cooked
Jan. 2, 2011 3:30 pm
I'm making a turkey soup and wanted to ask if anyone has used uncooked yams. If yes, does this alter the soup flavor?
Jan. 27, 2011 12:28 am
I was raised to soak chicken in salt water to draw out the blood espectionaly in the drumsticks and thighs.......Most everyone I talk to does not do this......which is the correct way to prep/clean the chicken. Thanks
Mar. 8, 2011 12:11 pm
What is the purpose of using wine in stovetop cooking and are there any good substitute liquids which will resemble the wines? I'm especially interested in white and red wine, and sherry. Thanks
Mar. 13, 2011 7:44 am
Hi cheryl - I honestly don't know what the purpose of white wine is in cooking but I do use a cab or merlot in some dishes to give it a deeper more robust flavor. Try a good red wine in your spaghetti sauce and let it simmer about 30 minutes!
Nov. 14, 2011 9:40 am
Cheryl, Blondie1203 -- Wine is mostly for flavor, but alcohol in general has a slight tenderizing effect. Instead of a sweet wine, you might substitute apple juice which is the flavor of Calvados, often used in cooking from Normandie and northern coastal France. Plum or cherry wines are nice. It's much harder to substitute for a dry wine or Sherry. Stovetop, de-glaze a sauté pan with wine. The alcohol evaporates very quickly at temperatures above 120 degrees (F). If those alcohol fumes catch fire, you have a flambe. The fire goes out once all the alcohol has burned off. Likewise, in deep-dish food like spaghetti sauce or Bourguignon, the alcohol is all gone; only the flavor lingers. Bourbon and a few other hard liquors are also used to flavor more robust dishes. My favorite is a sweet Bourbon sauce over a filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms.
Nov. 14, 2011 10:34 am
what is the temperature for a pork tenderloin
Nov. 16, 2011 10:00 am
What is suet in the english pudding and where can I find it?
Nov. 17, 2011 4:51 pm
i have success w/my turkey by freezing it after baking, usually 3 wks. before the planned dinner, but, would it be more flavorful if i baked it 2 or 3 days prior to the meal and refrigerated it properly?
Nov. 23, 2011 5:07 am
@ROXANN3 - My recommendation for most favor, is to serve almost immediately after you reach the proper cooking temp. You still want to rest the Turkey for around 20 or 30 minutes before serving to allow the juices to raise out to the surface. Additionally, Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F. If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly.
Nov. 23, 2011 5:20 am
@ROXANN3 - ^^^ sorry I forgot to answer your question beyond my recommendation - I do not recommend serving any longer than 45 minutes past cooking as the first serving because of the loss of juices during the chill and reheat. For optimal taste conditions you will never taste those juices more than you will when properly rested. Leftovers will have an advantage of being able to absorb additional flavors during the chill, but they will never have as many juices as right after the original heating
Nov. 23, 2011 5:23 am
***Additional tip, do not cut the turkey during the resting stage. you want to catch as many juices in each piece prior to cutting.
Nov. 23, 2011 5:27 am
@Jean - a cut 'n paste I found for ya. "Suet is the hard fat from around the kidneys of cows and sheep. Do not confuse it with fat from other parts of the animal that may be sold as suet but does not have the same properties. Most of the suet sold in supermarkets these days is suspect, of indeterminate quality and age, and quite likely intended for bird feeders. A butcher would be a more reliable source for suet. Because suet has a high melting point, it serves as a place-holder in puddings and crusts when the dough has begun to set, and long after other fats would have melted. As a result, the structure of the pudding is already defined by the time the suet melts, leaving thousands of tiny air holes that give the pudding a light and smooth texture. Additionally, suet, which does not have any meaty taste, imparts a rich flavor. The substitution of butter or shortening, especially in a steamed pudding, simply creates a dish that is heavy and greasy. Needless to say, very few people coo
Dec. 16, 2011 11:50 am
what do you do to get the blood out of chicken so it doesn't bleed out while frying?
Mar. 4, 2012 11:17 am
What is EVOO used as rub for standing rib roast?
Mar. 15, 2012 5:43 am
what is the best way to halve chicken breasts? never know which way to go and make such a mess of the breast.
Apr. 10, 2012 12:10 pm
Can I deep fry a turkey breast??If so PLEASE let me know . Thank you Linda Paholich
maureen w 
Aug. 30, 2012 7:32 am
good morning. i have a stewing chicken thawed and would like to know how to cook it right.could you help me. image i am older and never cooked one. maureen
Sep. 24, 2012 9:30 am
Last year I went to a Food Festival and learned about cooking turkey upside down. If you absolutely have to have the nice browned turkey breast top, then this is not for you. Most people don't eat the skin any way so cooking it upside down is sooooo easy. It basted itself and was really nice and moist. Putsome paprika and herbs on the breast to help to brown the skin, or you can turn the turkey over when done and broil top. Same directions for cooking right side up. Also, it is recommended in several books and shows that poultry should not be stuffed. It takes longer to cook and that could make your bird dry out. Stuffing is just as good cooked in the oven separately.
May 7, 2013 11:47 am
Is it better to par-boil chicken pieces prior to putting it on the grill and can you still use a rub if you do? How long would you par-boil it? How long would you grill it?
Nov. 3, 2013 9:17 pm
I put some frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot intending to cook them on "high." At the end of the day I realized I'd accidentally set the crockpot on "warm." Did I create the perfect environment for Salmonella, thus needing to throw the chicken away? Or, is it possible to set the crock pot on "low" all night and let the chicken breasts cook? I'd rather be safe than sorry, but hate to throw away such a large amount of chicken (about 24 breast tenders).
Dec. 16, 2013 7:16 pm
Can I cook an extra turkey thigh with my turkey? We never seem to have enough dark meat.
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