Maybe I should start my own mini-series on the topic. There’s nothing quite like Thanksgiving to give me another excuse to extol the virtues of cooking with a claypot. I’ve been savoring the results for over seven years now, and have a bevy of friends and family who have tweeted and Facebook in agreement. For those who search for the ultimate juicy, tender turkey, I most respectfully suggest: put away your traditional roasters and basting brushes, because when it comes to ensuring a moist bird, the clay pot reigns supreme.

But better get moving if you haven’t yet bought your bird!

STEP 1 – Defrost and Prep (important!)

Thanksgiving tips

Don’t wait until the last minute. Make sure you procure a turkey at least 5 days in advance so it has plenty of time to defrost in the refrigerator.

A 20lb turkey will take about 4 days to defrost and I like to add a day to this to ensure a completely thawed out turkey. On this 5th day, another option is to soak the entire turkey in a marinade which will add even more flavor to the turkey. This could be something as simple as just water and salt or you can spice it up with a couple of herbs pulverized with mortar and pestle.


Make sure your turkey is completely thawed, nothing will stack the odds against turkey success more than a partially frozen turkey.

After your turkey has been thawed out in the refrigerator and when you are ready to begin the cooking process, take it out to warm up to room temperature for another 3 hours. In general, do not keep turkeys or any meat at room temperature for more than 4 hours as bacteria does grow faster at warmer temperatures.

The reason I like to warm the turkey for a couple of hours at room temperature is because ideally, you want the outside of the turkey to be the same temperature as the inside of the turkey to ensure even cooking in an oven. For those that have cooked a turkey and the outside was done or overdone but the inside was still pink, this tip could be the remedy you are looking for.


Weight (lbs)                 Days in Refrigerator (days)

8-12                                    1 – 2

12-16                                  2 – 3

16-20                                  3 – 4

20-24                                  4 – 5

over 24                               Where is my invitation to your dinner?

Read on for steps 2 through 7. Happy Thanksgiving!

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