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My Turkey Is Done Too Early What Do I Do

My Turkey Is Done Too Early What Do I Do? Answered (2023)

Last Updated on December 31, 2022 by Shari Mason

We all dream of a perfectly roasted turkey just in time for dinner. It requires time and accurate measurement, but mistakes are common when cooking it.

Some might ask, “My turkey is done too early. What do I do?” To know the answer, keep scrolling.

5 Ways to Save Turkey That Is Done Too Early

cooked turkey on a pan

1. Do the Faux Cambro

Faux Cambro is an insulated container from Cambro Manufacturing used in most countries. It keeps the turkey warm for hours with just a few liters of hot water.

Pour boiling water and store your food there to keep it warm because it has a safe temperature zone that could keep your food warm for long periods.

You can also use this as storage if the turkey is cooked too early than expected and wanted to keep it warm as you serve them for guests to eat.

Just fill the Cambro with boiling water, cover the bird with a towel and double-layer aluminum foil and soak it in boiling water for at least four hours to stay heated.

2. Cover With Foil & Thick Towel

Cover it with foil and a thick blanket to keep your turkey warm for hours if it has finished cooking an hour early. Ensure the whole turkey is covered with foil with no airways for food safety. 

It can maintain the holiday meal warm for about three hours and serve it on time at Christmas dinners or dinner parties.

Let the turkey rest for about 20 to 30 minutes before covering it with aluminum foil and a large towel to release the initial heat and prevent the bird from having dark meat due to overcooking. 

3. Carve It Early

If the turkey is cooked too early, you can carve the bird that got done an hour earlier. Carve off the legs, thighs, and breast meat and arrange them on a serving platter and serve it with steamy gravy later on. 

Let it rest for 20 minutes, then cover the whole plate of carved turkey without a hole to avoid harmful bacteria and maintain the heat for hours. 

“Ultimately, the roast turkey must be regarded as a monument to Boomer’s love.”

– Tom Robbins, Best-selling American Novelist. 

If you don’t have a large cooler, place the bird inside the refrigerator after leaving it uncovered to avoid moisture. [1] 

When it’s time to serve, you can preheat it inside the oven for 20 minutes. The carved pieces of roasted turkey might not look good on the dinner table, but it is better than serving cold food.

4. Utilize Oven at Lowest Temperature

turkey inside the oven

Turkey is usually cooked inside the oven. It is the easiest and fastest way to heat a perfect dish­—especially roasted bird.

Timing and calculation are key to making a perfect roasted turkey on time. A convection oven can heat the entire oven space at 325° F for roasting turkey. 

If you’re using a conventional oven, don’t put the bird in too early.

If you have an ordinary low oven, it is better to keep the internal temperature at the lowest so it wouldn’t heat the foil-coated turkey faster. 

Slow roasting can also enhance the flavor of your turkey even after hours outside the oven.

5. Reheat When Serving

Reheating the bird before dinner was never bad, especially if you miscalculated your preparation time and the turkey was done earlier than the serving time.

To achieve a perfect turkey, you must put the oven low to reheat it slowly- to prevent drying, and becoming chewy.

The bird should be carved and put in a roasting pan. A spray of chicken broth can add a little moisture as you cook it.

Wrap the baking dish with aluminum foil and let the bird moist while reheating it slowly for about 20 to 30 minutes.

5 Tips & Tricks to Keep It Moist & Tasty 

  1. Never heat a half-frozen turkey if you don’t want raw meat on your table. Thaw the fresh turkey completely before cooking it. [2] 
  2. Brine your turkey two hours before cooking it. Brining will enhance the flavor of the meat and keep it moist and juicy even when cooked.
  3. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the heat to avoid burning and drying the meat. It takes about 15 minutes per pound to cook at 325° F.
  4. Baste your turkey for the perfect brown color and wrap it with foil to lock in the moisture while cooking. 
  5. Let the turkey rest for about 30 minutes before carving to let the juices sip in the meat.

How To Avoid This Scenario Next Time

Check the Weight of the Turkey

Smaller birds cook fast than larger birds. You have to check and estimate the weight before calculating the cooking duration because weight affects the duration.

The weight is indicated on the plastic if you buy fresh turkey at the supermarket. Keep in mind that the estimated roasting time of turkey is 15 minutes per pound at 325° F.

Set the Correct Temperature

The correct temperature also depends on the weight of the turkey. You can set the oven to 275 degrees to get a smokey taste.

Larger turkeys tend to roast slower at low temperatures at the smoker. You can raise it to 375 degrees without overly smoking the turkey.

Please do not start the smoker at a high and turn it down gradually. This process might turn the skin of smoked turkey crispy and overcook the meat.

Estimate the Cooking Time

close up shot of an oven baked turkey

The cooking time depends on the turkey’s weight and the smoker’s internal temperature.

At 275 degrees, the roasting duration is 15 minutes per pound. So a ten-pound turkey should be ready in 2.5 hours.

The preparation time changes at higher temperatures, at 375 degrees. The meat per pound should be cooked for 13 minutes.

Slow roast is the key to flavorful smoked turkey. Higher temperatures require less heating time. However, at high heat, the meat might not absorb the juices and flavor thoroughly.

FAQs 

Can I cook the turkey early and reheat it?

Yes, you could cook turkey early and reheat it in the oven. However, the texture and presentation might not be as good as freshly cooked.

Pre-cooked turkey needs to be carved before wrapping it in foil in several layers to stay warm and retain its moisture. Follow the tips for reheating the turkey perfectly.

Why is my turkey done too early?

Your turkey was done cooking too early for three reasons: (1) you miscalculated the preparation time, (2) high smoker temperatures, and (3) the inaccurate weight of the turkey.

To avoid mistakes in cooking turkey, follow the steps mentioned above. Also, to keep your turkey warm, use an insulated container or wrap it with foil and a towel.

Summary 

If your turkey is done earlier than expected, don’t fret. There are ways to keep your turkey warm without ruining the taste and flavor, but you must sacrifice the presentation.

Generally, the reason turkey gets done too early on most occasions is the miscalculations of the cooking time due to the inaccurate weight of the meat and oven temperature.

To get that delicious meal on the most important holiday traditions, you have to take note of the three factors that affect cooking time: weight, temperature, and cook time.

References:

  1. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/cooling_hot_food_do_it_right_to_prevent_bacterial_growth 
  2. https://www.livescience.com/5903-5-myth-busting-facts-safe-turkey.html
Shari Mason

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