Abide by these food safety rules for peace of mind during Thanksgiving, from prepping the feast to packing up the leftovers.
There don’t have to be a lot of rules around Thanksgiving — it’s a time for mixing tradition and time-tested recipes with experimentation and flavor exploration.
Even still, when you’re preparing a large quantity of food for a crowd over the course of many days, there are some things you should keep in mind for a safe feast:
1. Wash Up
Wash your hands, cutting boards and knives after handling raw meat. You don’t need to wash the meat itself.
2. Keep Cool
Thaw your bird in the fridge, not at room temp. A 12-pounder will take up to three days; a 20-pounder might take up to five.
3. Ready to Pop
Skip the pop-up timer! Turkey (and anything adjacent to it, like stuffing if it’s in the bird) needs to be cooked until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F.
The pop-ups tend to go off later, by which point your bird will be long past perfect.
4. Stay Sharp
Use a sharp knife! The sharper the knife, the lower the likelihood that the blade will slip.
You’re more likely to incur a cutting accident with a dull blade.
5. Quick Cleanup
Pack leftovers up promptly and get them into the fridge as soon as they cool down.