Like chicken, the turkey should be fully prepared to be safe to eat. While many brands of turkeys come with a pop-up button that is supposed to be a signal when the turkey is fully cooked, these are not always reliable. The reason for this is that the pop-up timer is inserted into the turkey’s breast, which may not be as thick as the thigh and is the thickest part of the meat that takes the most time to cook. A reliable meat thermometer is the best way to determine if the turkey is fully cooked.
- Follow the cooking times listed on the turkey wrap. Most are recommended 15 minutes per pound for a turkey-a plush toy and 20 minutes per pound for a refill.
- Insert the end of the meat thermometer probe into the thickest area of turkey meat. This is usually the area of the thigh just above where the thigh joins the body of the bird.
- Read the dial or the digital reading on the thermometer. The internal temperature of a fully cooked turkey is 190 degrees. If the temperature is less than that, return the bird to the oven and let the cooking continue.
- Check the temperature every 15 to 20 minutes until the correct temperature is reached.
Tips and warnings
- Many meat thermometers have the correct temperatures for different meats marked on the line unit or screen. Always follow these recommendations when cooking the meat of any digital thermometer for meat kind. At the same time, it may cost a bit more than a line version, which can be much more accurate than the temperature display. A stuffed turkey will always be needed more time to cook that one that is left anti-stuffing. Allow an extra 5 to 10 minutes per pound for a filled bird.
- Always wash the end of the thermometer probe after inserting it into the meat. The probe can carry bacteria from undercooked meat into the meat after it is done.
Where to place a meat thermometer on a turkey breast
The measurement of the internal temperature of cooked turkey ensures the meat has been heated to the point where it can be eaten safely. Knowing at what temperature to pull the turkey from the oven will also ensure that the meat is tender and not overcooked. Both digital and metal thermometers can be used for this purpose, and proper placement will provide a correct measurement.
Take the temperature
The USDA recommends that the turkey is heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safe feeding. To obtain a correct measurement, place the probe of the thermometer in the center of the thickest part of the breast. If you have reached the bone, you have gone too far. Once the thermometer has been set inside the meat, you can read the temperature.
When reading 165 degrees, pull it out of the oven, cover it, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before you start cutting it. This will raise the internal temperature over another five degrees, which will guarantee the whole breast has been thoroughly cooked. It also allows the juices to be redistributed throughout the meat intake for easier carving and a more tender meal.
Digital or quadrants
A variety of thermometers are now available for the home cook. Digital and instant-read dial-up are among the most common.
Digital thermometers are becoming more common in home kitchens because they are relatively inexpensive, offer accurate measurements, and can be easier to read than standard metal devices. A convenient feature of digital thermometers is that they can be set to sound an alarm when the food has reached the desired temperature. Some of these products are heat resistant and can be used directly in the oven. Other versions have attached the cables to the probe and to a unit that is kept out of the oven.
The standard metal versions that have a probe and a dial work just as well, but without the bells and whistles. One of the advantages of these thermometers is that you will not run out of batteries just before you try the temperature of the Thanksgiving turkey.
No matter which version you choose, you will have to check your calibration from time to time. This can be done by placing the end of the thermometer probe in a glass of ice and water. The ice bath should measure 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius.
If the measurement is even slightly off, you will have to adjust. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to do this with the electric versions. Usually, simple metal tools can be adjusted manually by adjusting a screw on the back or base of the sphere. Do not bypass this part of the process. Meat that is even a couple of undercooked grades can be dangerous for consumption.