Serving Turkey Safely

— Written By Hannah Nichols and last updated by Brenda Wilson

With the holidays just around the corner, the one thing we can count on being on the menu is turkey. The tips below will help you create a safe and delicious meal everyone can enjoy.

Perfect Portions- Prior to selecting your turkey, you must know how much turkey you will need for your guests. The rule of thumb is that you will buy about 1 pound per person or a pound and a half per person if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftovers. Butterball has a site to assist you with figuring potions –

Use a meat thermometer- A whole turkey and turkey parts are safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F, measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

Allow an adequate number of days to refrigerator-defrost a frozen turkey. There are only two other recommended thawing options: cold water and microwave. Do not thaw on the counter. Thawing at room temperature increases bacteria growth.

Wash hands, sinks, counters, utensils, and platters thoroughly with soap and hot water before and after working with raw turkey.

Stuff just before roasting, or cook stuffing separate from the turkey.

Allow the cooked turkey to sit for at least 20 minutes before carving. This makes the turkey easier to carve.

After the meal, cover, and store leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Leftover turkey will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

For any additional questions, please contact Hannah Nichols, Family and Consumer Science Agent at 828-688-4811 or 828-682-6186 or email

Looking for a creative way to use your leftover turkey? Try this quick and easy recipe.

Quick Turkey Casserole

Taste of Home

4 Servings

Prep/Total Time: 30 min.


  • 2 cups sliced onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 3 ounces low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed reduced-fat reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 2 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 1-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup fine cornflake crumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika


In a nonstick skillet, cook onions and sugar in butter and oil over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until onions are golden brown, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, place cream cheese in a shallow microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on high for 20-30 seconds or until softened. Add soup; stir until blended. Add the rice, turkey, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes or until heated through. Toss onions with cornflake crumbs; arrange over turkey mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-2 minutes or until topping is heated through.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutritional Facts: One serving (3/4 cup) equals 375 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 625 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 22 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2-1/2 starches, 1 vegetable.

Written By

Photo of Hannah Nichols, RDHannah Nichols, RDArea Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences (828) 688-4811 (Office) hannah_nichols@ncsu.eduMitchell County, North Carolina
Updated on Nov 25, 2013
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