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Why Let Turkey Rest After Cooking?

Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Lauren Beck

If you’re like most people, you probably think that resting a turkey after cooking it is simply an optional step. However, there are actually good reasons why you should let your turkey rest before carving and serving it.

Why Let Turkey Rest After Cooking?

1. To Let the Juices redistribute

If you carve into a turkey as soon as it comes out of the oven, all of the flavorful juices will pour out onto your cutting board instead of staying inside the meat where they belong. By letting the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes after cooking, you give those juices a chance to redistribute back into the meat, making it moister and more flavorful.

2. To Let it Finish Cooking

Even though your turkey may look like it’s cooked through, there’s actually a good chance that the inside is still raw. That’s because the heat hasn’t had a chance to evenly penetrate to the center of the bird yet. When you let the turkey rest, the heat has a chance to finish cooking the meat all the way through, resulting in a juicier, more evenly cooked bird.

3. To Make Carving Easier

If you try to carve a hot turkey, you’ll find that the meat is quite difficult to slice cleanly. That’s because it’s still contracting from the heat, making it tougher. When you let the turkey rest, the meat relaxes and becomes much easier to carve.

4. To Keep It Warm

If you’re worried about your turkey getting cold while it rests, don’t be. The residual heat from cooking will actually keep the turkey warm for quite awhile. In fact, if you’re not ready to carve and serve the turkey right away, you can actually let it rest for up to an hour without any problems.

How Long to Wait Before Carving a Turkey?

Generally, it’s best to let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes. This gives the juices plenty of time to redistribute and the meat plenty of time to finish cooking. If you’re not ready to carve and serve the turkey right away, you can let it rest for up to an hour without any problems.

Can You Rest A Turkey For Too Long?

Technically, you can rest a turkey for too long. If you let the turkey rest for more than an hour, the meat will start to dry out and become less flavorful. So if you’re not ready to carve and serve the turkey within an hour of taking it out of the oven, it’s best to slice it up and keep it warm in a low temperature oven (200-250 degrees) until you’re ready to serve.

How to Rest a Turkey?

roasted turkey in an aluminum tray

There’s no need to do anything special to rest a turkey. Simply remove it from the oven, cover it loosely with foil or a clean kitchen towel, and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

How Long To Rest Smoked Turkey?

If you’re smoking a turkey, it’s best to rest it for 30-60 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and the meat to finish cooking. It also gives the smoke flavor a chance to penetrate the meat, making it more flavorful.

Can I Rest The Turkey Breast Side Down?

Yes, you can rest the turkey breast side down if you’d like. This may help to keep the breast meat from drying out.

Should I Wrap The Turkey While it Rests?

Yes, it’s a good idea to wrap the turkey while it rests. This will help to keep the heat in, preventing the meat from drying out.

How to Take the Turkey Temperature?

The best way to take the turkey temperature is to insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh [1]. The turkey is done when the breast meat registers at 165 degrees and the thigh meat registers at 175 degrees.

Tips to Know When Your Turkey Is Done

  • The skin should be golden brown.
  • The juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a fork.
  • The internal temperature of the breast meat should be 165 degrees and the thigh meat should be 175 degrees.
  • If you’re using a pop-up timer, it should have popped up to indicate that the turkey is done.
  • If you’re using a meat thermometer, the needle should read 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the breast and 175 degrees when inserted into the thigh.

Conclusion

It’s important to let your turkey rest after cooking it. This allows the juices to redistribute, making the meat juicier and more flavorful. It also makes carving easier and keeps the turkey warm. Just be sure not to let the turkey rest for more than an hour or the meat will start to dry out.

Reference:

  1. https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/take-turkey-temperature
Lauren Beck

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