Here's how to actually microwave a Thanksgiving turkey

The table's set. The potatoes are roasting and the bottles of wine are ready to be popped. 

There's so much that goes into Thanksgiving (the most stressful holiday IMO!), that it's easy to forget about -- and ruin -- the most iconographic holiday dish of them all: the turkey. 

The bird is so integral to the holiday that last year's #25lbTurkeyChallenge left everyone from parents to grandparents and even celebrity chefs with palpitations. As part of the viral prank, thousands of people texted their parents asking how long it would take to microwave a 25-pound turkey. 

People were so convinced by the prank that they took it upon themselves to contact Butterball's famous turkey talk-line (which has experts on-hand during the holiday to answer any of your wildest turkey questions) inquiring about the truthfulness behind the prank. In fact, Butterball received three times as many microwave-related calls compared to the year prior, the company's representatives told AOL Lifestyle. 

But there are ways to cook a turkey without an oven -- and yes, even in the microwave. Read on to discover Butterball's best preparation tips below.

How to microwave a turkey 

(These instructions are for a 9-pound bird)

  1. Thaw your turkey first – don’t put a frozen turkey in the microwave! 
  2. Place turkey breast side down on a microwave-safe dish/plate.
  3. Microwave it for 4 minutes per pound on full power (so 36 minutes for this 9lb turkey).
  4. Remove drippings.
  5. Flip it over on its breast and cook at 50 percent power for 8 minutes per pound, with 4 intervals (about every 18 minutes, while checking the turkey temp at each interval.
  6. Don’t forget to baste and add a browning sauce for a golden brown look that you are used to.

How to air fry a turkey 

  1. Completely thaw your whole turkey breast.
  2. Using kitchen shears, remove rib cage.
  3. Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Prepare breast with seasonings. Spray generously with cooking spray.
  5. Place breast in air fryer basket, skin side up.
  6. Set air-fryer temperature to 400° F. Cook 45-60 minutes, about 7-10 minutes per pound, until a food thermometer inserted registers 165°F.
  7. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

How to spatchcock a turkey

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil, extending foil 3 inches past pan on both long sides.
  2. Place wire rack on pan.
  3. Remove giblets and neck. Place turkey on cutting board, breast side down. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone, leaving a 2-inch wide strip, cut along the opposite side and remove.
  4. Press on breast, down and towards outside. Turn the turkey over and press firmly down on the breast bone until the turkey flattens.
  5. Place turkey on rack, tucking legs and wings in to fit and making sure there is foil under any pieces that hang over side of pan. Pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Brush with oil. Prepare with seasonings.
  7. Roast 1 hour 20 minutes or until turkey registers 170° F in breast and 180° F in thigh when tested with instant-read meat thermometer.
  8. Let stand 10 minutes before carving.

For more Thanksgiving info, watch the video above! 

Butterball Turkey Talk-Line's funniest stories
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Butterball Turkey Talk-Line's funniest stories
Bundle of Joy

A flustered father called the Talk-Line a few hours after his wife had given birth to their first child.  He was concerned their turkey had been thawing in the fridge for too long while he was at the hospital.  When the staffer asked the man how much it weighed, he replied, “The turkey or the baby?” After determining the turkey’s weight and thawing time, she assured him he would be able to deliver a safe, delicious Thanksgiving dinner by the time mom and the baby returned home. 

Turkey Treasure

After discovering a turkey from 1969 in his dad’s freezer, an Alabama man called the Talk-Line to ask about the best way to cook the 30+ year-old bird. Although the Talk-Line staffer recommended the open roasting pan method to cook most turkeys, this time she suggested that the first step was to purchase a fresher fowl! This same gentleman also had in his freezer: the top of his wedding cake and a snowball from every snowstorm he'd experienced in Alabama.

Sun-Kissed Feast

Some holiday chefs take extreme measures to please all guests. A caller was e-mailed a photo featuring a turkey with a “bikini look.” As she was entertaining guests from the Bahamas, she asked Mary Clingman, 20+ year veteran, how she could create a tropical turkey.  Believe it or not, by using aluminum foil Mary suggested a way to make the turkey look like a sun goddess!

State Bird

When a Talk-Line staffer asked a caller what state her turkey was in—meaning how thawed was it, the caller responded with “Florida.”

It’s a Wrap

A proud gentleman called to tell the staff how he wrapped his turkey in a towel and stomped on it several times, breaking the bones so it would fit in his pan.

Upside Down Turkey Surprise

A disappointed woman called wondering why her turkey had no breast meat.  After a conversation with a Talk-Line operator, it became apparent that the woman's turkey was lying on the table upside down.

The Great Turkey Expansion 

A new bride cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in a small, apartment-sized oven, wanted to make sure her turkey wouldn't expand during cooking (as baked goods do) and get stuck in the oven.

Frozen Turkey

A lady from Colorado calling about “how to thaw” her frozen Butterball.  She proudly shared the fact that her turkey was stored in a snow bank outside!  It had snowed the night before and it then dawned on her that she didn’t have a clue which snow bank her turkey was in.  At that point, the conversation was really over because she was now on a mission to go find her turkey. 

Turkey Help in a Pinch

One caller had always cut the legs off the turkey before putting it in the oven thinking that was how you had to cook a turkey.  She later learned that the only reason her mom had been doing that was because their oven had been so small that that was the only way to get the bird into the oven!

Cat’s Got the Turkey?

A newlywed’s parents arrived for their first Thanksgiving meal.  One of the dads noticed the turkey thawing in the sink in cold water with a dish drainer and a rubber mat on top of it all.  Her dad inquired why she was thawing the turkey that way.  She said – that was the way her mom thawed the bird.  The mother said – well, yes, but we HAD a cat!


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