Overcooked turkey is a common Thanksgiving pitfall, but undercooked turkey may be an even bigger horror show. Luckily, you can fix it fairly quickly. The key is not to put the entire bird back in the oven.
If you carve into your Thanksgiving turkey and discover that the meat is still raw, don’t put the whole thing back in the oven, because it could take a long time to finish cooking. Your sides will turn ice cold and your guests will mutiny (or at least finish all the wine before dinner’s ready).
Instead, keep carving. Slice off the legs and the whole breasts, place them on a baking sheet, and pop it into a 375°F oven. Check the turkey every 15 minutes until the pieces reach an internal temperature of 175°F and the juices run clear.
Then you can slice the meat, pile it on a platter, and bring it to your grateful guests.
Surprisingly, yes, this can be okay. The USDA recommends going by internal temperature, so invest in a meat thermometer (don’t rely on the little plastic pop-up indicator that may have come jammed into your turkey already). They also note that smoked turkey meat may remain pink.
Modernist Cuisine dives a little deeper into cytochrome, which can cause pink discoloration when the meat is cooked above the recommended temperature.
So if you ended up overcooking your turkey because you thought it was still raw, here’s how to fix dry turkey.
And see our guide on how to cook a turkey with recommended times and temperatures for a perfectly roasted bird to begin with.
If you need to reheat your sides after your undercooked turkey has finished catching up to them, it’s easy enough to put casseroles and veggies back into the warm oven for a few minutes and nuke the gravy for 30 seconds or so, but mashed potatoes benefit from a little special attention.
See how to reheat mashed potatoes below:
For more tips, tricks, hacks, and recipes, see our Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving.