Ina Garten's Tip for Thanksgiving Turkey That's Actually Good

"People tend to overcook them."

Thanksgiving may look a bit different from year to year, but one thing that will likely remain constant is the presence of turkey on the dinner table. People hosting smaller gatherings may opt for smaller birds, or even go for turkey breast.

Ina Garten, whose latest cookbook, Go-To Dinners, dropped in October 2022, has a tip to make sure your turkey is moist, succulent, and deeply flavorful. The secret? Let it rest much longer than you think you should.

Ina Garten and Thanksgiving turkey
NBCUniversal / Getty Images

"I think we're used to cooking protein for too long and forgetting to let it rest," Garten told us. "When it rests, it really keeps cooking. So I undercook things by about 10 degrees and then let it rest." She says she'll let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes after taking it out of the oven.

Especially for smaller Thanksgiving gatherings, Garten recommends roasting a turkey breast and skipping the "rigmarole" of carving entirely.

"The thing about the breast of a turkey that's great is that you're not dealing with bones," she says. "I always hate when you're dressed up and you're trying to carve the turkey. It's all over the place. It's just the worst. But with a boneless breast, it's got great flavors and you can really assemble it a day in advance. The flavoring should really get into the turkey, and then just roast it before you want to serve it. And so all you have to do is slice it."

If you do go with a bird, the smaller the better, at least if you want to avoid all those "turkey is dry" stereotypes. Garten advises sticking with birds that are no more than five pounds.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles