How to clean a turkey? 5 easy steps

How to clean a turkey

Traditionally served at Christmas, turkey can be eaten all year round, but before enjoying it with your friends or family, you must clean it! Whether it’s a turkey that you bought from a supermarket, from your butcher, or from a farm, you need to know how to remove the giblets and there should be no small feathers left on their turkeys. thighs and body before cooking it. Start by putting on your kitchen apron.

Step 1. Make sure it is completely thawed. 

If you cook a turkey while some places are still more or less frozen, it will not cook properly and you may get sick from the presence of bacteria. To make sure, gently press down on the animal’s body while it is still in its wrapper to feel if you encounter any resistance.

  • For 500 g of meat, it takes about 30 minutes to thaw a turkey placed in a container filled with cold water (if it weighs 3 kg, it takes 3 hours). Never use hot water and change the water every 30 minutes. Make sure the packaging is not torn to avoid cross contamination .
  • If you thaw it in your refrigerator, allow 24 hours for a 2.5 kg turkey. If it plague between 7 and 8 kg, you will have to wait approximately 3 days before cooking it!
  • In case you bought an unfrozen turkey from a butcher shop, or if it comes from a farm and has just been killed, of course you don’t need to thaw it.

Step 2. Take it out of its packaging. 

Transfer your future meal to a large dish in the sink or place the turkey on a large amount of paper towel on the kitchen table.

  • Before removing the packaging, check to see if there are any cooking instructions or important warnings you should read. If the turkey is from a farm, it will definitely not be placed in a package with markings on it.
  • Before removing the animal completely from its packaging, hold it over your sink, take a knife, and make an opening to let the juice that has accumulated during thawing run out.

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Step 3. Rinse the turkey. 

Thoroughly clean the inside and outside of the animal. If there are small feathers left on some parts of their body, remove them all by pulling them as close to their skin as possible while pressing at the base of the feathers. Wash it again (you may need to rinse it 2 or 3 times).

  • Before cleaning the inside of the turkey, you may need to remove the metal or plastic rings that hold the legs to the body. You can then rub the inside and remove the giblets there. If you bought it from a supermarket, the offal will likely be in a plastic bag inside the animal. You can cook them, use them to make a sauce, a broth, or give them to your dog or throw them away.
  • If there are ice crystals in the body, remove them by running a little lukewarm water into the cavity. If there is a lot, the turkey is not thawed enough. Then place it in a large container filled with cold water and leave it there for a while, but not too long, as bacteria that are harmful to your health will grow.
  • The cavity on the back of the animal is usually hidden by a piece of skin. The best way to clean the interior is to turn it over.

Step 4. Drain off the excess water and pat it dry. 

Take the turkey and hold it so that the cavity at the back is facing your sink and shake it gently to get the water out of it. Then place it in a large dish or on sheets of paper towel that you have arranged on the kitchen table and dry it using several sheets of paper towel. Transfer it to the dish in which you are going to cook it.

Step 5. Clean up your workspace. 

After you have finished cleaning the turkey, you should wash the areas where you put it thoroughly using an antibacterial product or hot water containing a little bleach. Thoroughly clean the sink, knife, kitchen table, cutting board … Anything that has come into contact with the animal. Then wash your hands with water and antibacterial soap.


No matter how it’s been frozen, don’t take your turkey out of the wrapper until you’re ready to clean and cook it.

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