Thanksgiving is the largest meal many cooks prepare every year. Its centerpiece—the turkey—is the largest dish most cooks ever encounter, and many are not experienced at roasting one. Historically, it is the time when new brides call home to their mothers with the plea, “How do I cook a turkey?”

Modern day resources for help in cooking that “first turkey” are numerous. From Smartphone apps to the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, there are many suggestions available to help cooks though the maze of preparing and cooking that first Thanksgiving turkey.

Safe handling and proper cooking are both issues that USDA wants to help inexperienced cooks to understand. “Unsafe handling and undercooking of your turkey can lead to serious food borne illness,” said Al Almanza, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services have a variety of food safety resources to help with any questions related to preparing Thanksgiving dinner, including our Meat and Poultry Hotline that will be staffed will helpful experts on Thanksgiving Day.”

This Thanksgiving more than 46 million turkeys will be eaten. Cooking the Thanksgiving turkey can be tricky, and trying to figure out when the turkey is done is often the hardest task. But, it doesn’t have to be! Impress your family by using a food thermometer to cook like a professional chef:

  • Place the thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and the thickest part of the breast.
  • Read the temperature to make sure that the bird has reached a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Take the turkey out of the oven, and serve it to your family without worry!

For big Thanksgiving dinners, planning your shopping list ahead is very important. When you are trying to figure out if you can use something you already have at home, keep the FoodKeeper application handy for food storage advice. It offers information on how to store more than 400 different food and beverage items. It can help you decide what you can keep and what you should through out. It also offers guidance on leftovers. It can be downloaded on an Android or iOS device.

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, you can call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. You can also chat live with a food safety expert at, available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat & Poultry Hotline phone line is available from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.