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According To Butterball, You CAN Actually Microwave A Whole Turkey

This Thanksgiving season, there’s been a viral prank going around that encourages folks to text their moms asking how to microwave a 25-pound turkey. While it’s elicited some pretty funny WTF reactions that people have posted online, turns out there actually IS a way to cook the whole bird in the microwave, and it could save you a bit of time.

Butterball went on the record with TODAY Food to explain exactly how it was possible. While they recommend against it for anything over 12 pounds based on health and safety reasons, smaller birds can cook in about 2 hours time using the microwave oven properly. These are the steps they recommended:

  1. Thaw the turkey out first to room temperature, then place breast-side down in a microwave-safe dish or plate.
  2. Microwaving will happen in two stages. The first part will be at full power, for 4 minutes per pound. So, if you have a 10-pound turkey, it will take 40 minutes.
  3. Set your microwave down to half power, remove the drippings from the plate, and turn the turkey back over. Baste the skin, then microwave for 8 minutes per pound. Make sure to baste every 18 minutes, taking the turkey’s temperature in the thigh and the breast each time.
  4. When the turkey thigh reaches an internal temperature of 180-185 degrees F and the breast is at 170-175 degrees F, the turkey is done. Baste once more, then serve.

Based on these instructions, the total cooking time for a 10-pound turkey would be 2 hours, not counting time needed to baste and thaw out the bird. If you were to do it an oven, recommends about 3 hours for a similar turkey (unstuffed), so you’d save a significant amount of time using the microwave.

To make sure that the Butterball hotline wasn’t pulling the wool over our eyes on this one, we reached out to them West Wing-style, noting that we were interested in cooking a turkey in the microwave. This is the response we got:

“Butterball has not tested cooking directions over anything larger than 12 pounds. We recommend following the microwave’s manufacturer’s directions. Just make sure your thigh reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F and your breast reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees F.”

“Microwaving a turkey under 12 lbs is an option but there are many steps. Call or email for complete directions.”

E-mailing a request for complete directions for a 10-pound turkey yielded the following recipe, which is pretty similar to the one Butterball gave to TODAY:

Many microwaves have small interiors and carousels, be sure turkey and tray fit.  Begin by evenly stabilizing turkey, breast down, with microwave-safe item, in microwave-safe dish.

To cook, follow these steps 3 to 4 times:

1) Brush back of turkey with one tablespoon of Browning Sauce*.
2) Microwave at high power for 4 minutes per pound. If no turntable, rotate at 2 minutes.
3) Remove and discard drippings (remove so microwave energy remains on turkey; discard they are partially cooked and therefore unsafe to consume).
4) Turn turkey breast up (protect fingers with paper towels).  Brush breast with one tablespoon of Browning Sauce*.
5) Microwave at medium power for 8 minutes per pound.
6) Remove and discard drippings.

After third interval, check temperatures.  If all parts not up to temperature, microwave for fourth interval and recheck temperatures to ensure breast is at 165 degrees F and thigh is at 180 degrees. F.  Cover cooked turkey with foil and let stand for 15-20 minutes before carving.

* BROWNING SAUCE:  1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup); 1/4 teaspoon paprika; 1/8 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master

While the 25-pound turkey everyone is pranking their moms with isn’t a real microwave option, know that if you are in a time crunch and have a smaller bird, using the appliance might be a real option to cooking the bird faster.


A Ridiculous Look At Where Our Food Is Coming From [INFOGRAPHIC]

This Thanksgiving 221,000,000 pounds of turkey were consumed, and according to some research from FrugalDad, we now know 30% of those turkeys will come from Butterball. 50% of the groceries people in the US will come from 4 supermarket chains. All of these facts go into a pretty dramatic infographic that lays into “Big Food” pretty heavy (see below).

If even remotely true, one of the scarier bits of information that can be pulled from the graphic is that Big Food will help the average American male consume a body-warping 35 pounds of antibiotics via store-bought meat over his lifetime.

We’ll let the rest of the graphic speak for itself (clicking on the image will pop up a larger version). What do you all think of the findings? Should we be more aware of Big Food? Maybe we should be more active in seeking alternatives to the processed food giants that currently serve our country?



Ways NOT to Cook Your Turkey [COMIC]

Thanksgiving is now just days away, and many of you out there will be cooking a turkey for the first time. Even for seasoned vets, the task of cooking an entire turkey for a table of hungry mouths can be an intimidating one. One of the most trusted source of information for cooking turkey during the months of November and December is the Butterball-sponsored Turkey Talk-Line.

FOODBEAST had the chance to interview Alice, a supervisor for the Turkey Talk-Line, and has been answering turkey questions for the last 15 years. Pre-requisites for the hotline includes 2-3 weeks of training, including the actual preparation of turkeys with the various cooking methods they answer questions for. The 9 cooking methodologies include: grilling, open pan, covered pan, deep frying, electric roaster, brining, frozen turkey thawed and cooked, microwaving, and countertop roaster.

Before we get into the 3 weirdest phone calls Alice has ever answered on the Turkey Talk-Line, we’ll cover the answers to the 4 most frequently asked questions about preparing a Turkey.

Q: How long does it take to thaw a Turkey?

A: 1 day for every 4lbs OR 30 minutes per pound in cold water.

Q: How big of a Turkey should I purchase?

A: A pound and a half of turkey weight per person. This allows everyone to have a generous portion and leftovers for sandwiches and chili.

Q: When is the Turkey done?

A: Recommend using a meat thermometer. The thigh should be 180 degrees, stuffing should be 165 degrees in the center, and the breast should be 170 degrees.

Q: What’s the best way to store Turkey leftovers?

A: Take all the meat off the bone and store in the fridge for the rest of Thanksgiving weekend. If you want Turkey after the weekend, freeze the meat not used for sandwiches. The turkey will last up to 2 months.

And finally, here are the 3 ways NOT to cook your turkey – some of the weirdest calls Alice has ever received in her 15 year career…

1. If I’m cooking a turkey while traveling across time-zones in a recreational vehicle, will the Turkey cook an hour faster?

2. Is there anyway I can save my turkey if I accidentally pushed the ‘Clean’ button instead of ‘Bake’? My fiancee and parents are coming over for dinner in a few hours. 

3. Our turkey looks awful. We needed it to defrost faster, so we threw it in the dryer. But now the plastic is all melted. What can we do?