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Ideal Turkey Temperatures? Nasty Cold Next Week?

27 Nov 2013, 10:40 am

We were discussing forecast temperatures for some of the colder spots around the nation today, and that got us into discussing temperatures ideal for storing AND cooking turkey.

A logical progression of the conversation, right?

Well here you go – more than you ever wanted to know about Turkey temps (or maybe exactly what you’d like to know…) and also bitterly cold air moving in for next week.

You want to store your turkey at 40° or below – and here is why (courtesy of Iowa State):

Why can’t I just thaw my turkey at room temperature?

Room temperatures fall within the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F that promotes active growth of bacteria. If left on a kitchen counter, a frozen turkey will thaw from the outside in. As its surface warms, bacteria multiply. In the time it takes for the entire turkey to thaw, the surface bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels. Cooking may not destroy all bacteria. Some foodborne bacteria produce toxins that withstand heat.

So there you go.  I won’t begin to say I’m a good example to follow, however, after leaving frozen pizzas in my car at room temperature overnight at one point and then cooking/eating them.  While I was lucky to have survived that experience (they were GOOD quality pizza, how could I throw them away???), you may not be so lucky.

That brings us to the second stage of this blog: what temperature to COOK your turkey to.  I cooked my frozen pizzas extra, and at a hotter temperature – but here is what you’re supposed to cook your properly stored turkey to:


Turkey Temps
Turkey Temps


And here is how long you’ll need to cook your bird, depending on poundage:


Turkey Temps
Turkey Temps


And those AIR temperatures?  The cold for next week around the nation? Well let’s get to those.

Here is the temperature outlook for December 2nd to the 6th:



See all of that blue?  That means you have at LEAST a 30% chance of below average temperatures.

It doesn’t look much better, and in fact it looks WORSE as you heat toward December 4-10.

Check out the sea of blue in this map:



This is all due to a massive cold front moving in by the middle of next week for much of the nation’s midsection.

I pulled up some model-forecasted temperatures (meaning they haven’t been adjusted by me or another meteorologist, this is just the computer’s thoughts) for next week, and check out our Wednesday highs for the nation:



Those deep purples in northern Montana?  Highs in the single digits!

Teens and lower 20s over the Dakotas and Minnesota.


So there you have it.  Keep yourself warm, but keep your turkeys properly chilled.

WeatherNation Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer @ashafferWNTV

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