There’s a lot more to turkey than a big bird for holiday dinners. Turkey pieces and ground turkey are easy to prepare and make quick, delicious and nutritious meals any time of year. Turkey is high in protein, low in calories and one of the leanest meats around. It’s also an excellent source of B12. Dark meat from the drumstick is also an excellent source of zinc and selenium.


For holiday dinners, buy a fresh turkey or choose a frozen bird, unstuffed or stuffed.

Ground turkey, breasts, cutlets, drumsticks and thighs are available year-round.


Remove giblets and refrigerate a whole fresh turkey, covered, for up to 2 days.

Use ground turkey within 1 day or freeze for 2 months.

Use turkey cold cuts within 3 days.

After a holiday meal, carve remaining turkey from the bone, transfer leftover stuffing to a container and refrigerate within 2 hours. Eat within 2 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Do not refreeze a thawed turkey.


Never thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature. Leave in the original package and use one of the following methods:

Refrigerator: Place bird on a tray in the refrigerator, allowing 5 hours per pound (10 hr/kg).

Quick thaw: Place wrapped frozen turkey in sink and immerse completely with cold water. Allow 1 hour per pound (2 hours/kg), changing water frequently.

Frozen stuffed turkey: Do not thaw a frozen pre-stuffed turkey before cooking.

Remove giblets and neck. Rinse a fresh or thawed turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. 


Whole bird: Place whole bird breast-side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. Brush with oil. Insert meat thermometer in thickest part of thigh, away from bone. Roast at 325°F (160°C) until thermometer registers 180°F (82°C) for a stuffed turkey and 170°F (77°C) for an unstuffed bird.

When done, a leg will wiggle easily and thigh juices will run clear when pricked.

Thighs: Two boneless, skinless thighs (2.5 lb/1 kg) take between 1.5 and 1 ¾ hours to cook.

Place in a shallow roasting pan and brush with oil. Tent with foil.

Insert thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh and roast at 325°F (160°C) until it registers 170°F (77°C).

Whole BBQ turkey: Pre-heat grill to medium.

Place bird breast-side up in a shallow pan, lightly brush with oil and season inside and out. Add ½ cup (125 mL) water to pan.

Place on rack, insert meat thermometer into thigh, away from bone, and close lid.

After 20 to 30 minutes, lower heat to medium-low and tent turkey with foil to prevent over-browning.

Baste every 15 to 20 minutes, adding more water to pan as needed.

Cook until thigh temperature reads 180°F (82°C) and breast reads 170°F (77°C).