It’s early November, and you’re already thinking about how your Thanksgiving turkey will taste this year. You turkey-cooking specialists out there are confident in your skills and that everything will turn out fabulously.

Things don’t always go well. Thanksgiving debacles happen to both rookies and masters, and you could be left with a bird that’s not fit for serving. Too dry. Undercooked. Flavorless. Burnt. Or all of those magically rolled into one jacked-up mess. That’s not a happy Thanksgiving, and everyone will have to eat sides or desserts for their meal.

What can one do to avoid these mistakes? You could phone a family member for help. You could hire a caterer. You could cook something other than a turkey this year. Or you could follow these tips from Southern Living!

Amateurs and turkey vets alike will appreciate this advice that can keep tears of disappointment from streaming down your face. Watch out for these no-no’s:

  1. Not Enough Thaw Time

    Sigh. Why didn’t you take your bird out of the freezer in time? One day minimum is recommended, but pros say 24 hours for every 5 pounds of bird. The easiest and safest way is to do a fridge thaw over the course of several days. Pop it in a large tray or pan and then into your cold refrigerator.

    Plan ahead so you won’t have to worry about a water thaw which requires water changes every 30 minutes.

  2. Dull Seasoning

    Why would you offend your turkey by not taking the time to season it? We’re not talking oversalting the thing, but you do want it to treat it well by flavoring it. Skimping on herbs and aromatics is not the move.

    Dry rub it, stick spices and butter under the skin, BRINE it – use whatever technique you want – to make it tasty. And don’t forget the cavity!

  3. Cooking Upside Down

    Take a good look at your bird before you put it in the oven. Are the breasts right side up? Sure, you could use the trendy method of roasting it upside down, but that will require you to flip the bird sometime during cooking.

    To make it easier, make sure the breasts are facing upwards and tent it with some aluminum foil before it hits the oven.

  4. Skipping Temperature Checks

    We suggest investing in a meat thermometer rather than relying on the standard-issue plastic one that comes with your turkey. You’ll need to poke it into two spots: the breast and thigh. Go for the deepest part of the breast. With the thigh, insert the thermometer into the thickest part without touching bone.

  5. Not Allowing the Bird to Rest

    You can do that eventually with a nice glass of wine, but your bird needs a rest after it’s done cooking. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to give the juices a chance to reabsorb. That’ll make for easier carving!

Click on the video for more turkey-saving tips that can help you deliver a fully cooked, juicy bird. You’ll have a lot of happy folks at the table and a great Thanksgiving instead of turkey misgivings!

Are you a rookie who finds these tips useful? Have you made mistakes with your turkey on the big day? What tricks have you picked up over the years?