NEW HOTLINE for Your Questions: How to Microwave a 25 Pound Turkey

If you read How to Microwave a 25 Pound Turkey and found the directions helpful but insufficiently detailed — or helpful, but, now that you’ve tried it, you’ve run into some unforeseen difficulties — you’re not alone. I hear you, friends. I see the profound need as we prepare for Gluttony Day here in America. We are a community, and we care about each other! And that’s why we’ve set up this New Hotline — right here in the comments section — to address any specific needs you may have.

For example, I heard from my dear friend, Sally, this morning.

Sally writes:

IMPORTANT QUESTION, SALLY. And one ignored in the 11 Step Directions for How to Microwave a 25 Pound Turkey. But FEAR NOT, because I can help you, and — little known fact — you do NOT need a bigger microwave.

Good advice, yes?

NO.

I mean, yes — most of it was good advice, but my brother noticed one big problem.

Folks, THIS IS WHY WE NEED EACH OTHER. THIS IS WHY COMMUNITY IS SO ESSENTIAL. We have GOT TO STOP thinking we can go it alone. THINK OF ALL THE DAMAGED MICROWAVES WE WOULD HAVE were it not for cooperative and kind collaboration. 

Which leads me to the Hotline:If you are new to microwaving your 25 pound turkey, you may have questions like Sally. Of COURSE you do. So Jeff and I are here to help.

Post any questions you have in the comments, and we’ll get back to you ASAP with info so everyone can have a microwave disaster this Thanksgiving. Consider it our gift to you.

With love,

P.S. PLEASE DO ANSWER QUESTIONS IN THE COMMENTS, TOO. It takes a Village to microwave a 25 pound turkey. We need all the collective wisdom we can gather.

P.P.S. Jeff technically doesn’t know he’s participating in this, because I haven’t told him yet, but he’s my baby brother, so I’ve trained him to do what he’s told. Honestly, he was better at doing what he was told when he was a child and didn’t have troublesome roadblocks to following orders like “a backbone” and “high self-esteem” and his “own family, so I can’t do what you want every damn time, Beth; my wife and kids need me, too,” but I feel it’s important, when you love someone, not to give up on him. I’m resilient, is what I’m saying. I am resilient, and I persevere. I SHALL OVERCOME. #BigSister #BossForLife

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
30 comments
  1. My boyfriend wanted to be all bougie this year so he insisted on spatchcocking the bird to throw it on the barbecue. Only now the grill ain’t working and now I gots me a flat ass turkey that don’t fit. I mean I could maybe roll it up but if I have to cut the legs and wings off I got no place to stuff them and for sure no place for the spoons so now what am I gonna do? Men! He ain’t no bougie boy…

  2. I’ve been here. Not microwaving a turkey but toaster oven-ing a turkey in Japan. Story below!

    Convection ovens have come a long way in the past 20 years. I’ve been able to use them to roast turkeys with a bit of ingenuity, so long as they fit.

    I’ve hosted Thanksgiving at my place over the past two decades with varying degrees of success. There’s the Cornish hen debacle where I tried to feed 20 people with a 1-kg hen, the year that I forgot to take out all the giblets from the inside of the turkey before cooking it (in my defense, who hasn’t done that?), and the year that I mistakenly strained the stock that I had so carefully prepared for over two hours down the drain. Thankfully, no one has ever been hospitalized with salmonella as a result of my cooking escapades, as my husband who has a more delicate stomach is automatically volunteered every year to be the taste-tester for the turkey.

    But, things haven’t always been so easy.

    In the early 90s, I attempted to host my first Thanksgiving in a studio apartment. I was missing home a lot that year and went a bit overboard inviting people from near and far. All in all, I needed to find space to fit 25 people.

    I had big plans for the 3-kg turkey I had picked up at the local foreign food store. This was well before the advent of Costco and so required a 2-hour drive with my husband (then boyfriend) who was puzzled by all the fanfare involved in this seemingly small dinner party I was going to host.

    I had persuaded the local junior high school down the street where I was teaching to let me use the ovens at the school to cook the turkey. Everything was in place.

    I started preparations the day before the party. After we prepared the turkey, a friend and I hauled it down the street, dragging it between us and trying not to drop it. After arriving at the school, the teachers showed us to the home ec classroom where we discovered that we needed to heat up the oven. OK, no big deal. A quick 10 minutes and we would be able to do our thing. Thirty minutes later, as the oven is just starting to feel a bit warm, the teacher comes into the classroom to check on our progress because she was leaving and needed to lock up the school. So, I turned the oven off and my friend and I picked up the (still uncooked) turkey, heading back down the street to my apartment under the curious eyes of the local neighborhood kids.

    After lugging the turkey for a city block and hauling it up 11 flights (on the elevator, but still), we deposited the still-raw turkey on my kitchen table and debated our options. Having just graduated from college, my kitchen was still in the fledgling stages of actually being usable. No oven, microwave, or any kind of cooking equipment to be found, with the exception of a very small toaster oven…and 25 people arriving the next day.

    So, I took the only route available–my trusty toaster oven. Have you ever had to hack up a raw turkey into small pieces? Fit those pieces into a toaster oven? And then proceed to cook them for 12 hours?

    There was no turkey juice to be found by the time morning rolled around and I surveyed my dry-as-the-Sahara turkey feast, but I was 22 and street savvy. My friend and I concocted something resembling gravy from flour, honey, and whatever spices I could find.

    Thankfully, it was the first Thanksgiving feast for many of my Japanese guests, who had been taught from an early age at school that they had to finish everything on their plates or risk not being able to play outside at recess. And, no one came down with salmonella…all the makings of a successful Thanksgiving dinner.

  3. So, my son only eats bread, butter, Rice Krispies, clementine oranges, and steak. Steak *filet* — no marbling, no fat, no nothing. Oh, and no charring either. Heaven help us all if the steak has any black on it! And noooooo way am I going to serve him turkey, or, well, anything except what’s on that list. There are other days of the year I have it in me to fight the good “you should eat what you’re served” fight. But not on Thanksgiving — that’s a HOLIDAY. I don’t pick fights with my kiddos on HOLIDAYS. So, Beth, help! I can’t afford 25 lbs of filet. And even if I could, how would I stuff it? And then, how do I convince my son that steak from the microwave is just as good as non-charred, non-marbled, perfectly warmed steak off of the grill?

  4. I’m out of saran wrap and getting more would require me actually leaving my house. Is it ok to wrap the microwave in tin foil?

    1. Kristine — I’m so glad you mentioned not leaving the house. There is ALWAYS a better solution than going to that extreme, so I appreciate your out-of-the-box thinking. Unfortunately, foil won’t work for wrapping the microwave because it’s not stretchy enough to tightly hold everything together. This would be an excellent time, though, to repurpose any old, worn, elastic waist-band garments. Perhaps cutting up and knotting together your significant other’s undergarments? Be creative!

  5. In case of inclement weather, or for those who prefer things a bit more contained, I suggest planning the whole operation from thaw to finish in the bathtub. Now Beth is understandably skittish about nuking turkey indoors, but if you have a bathroom without windows then the risks are minimal compared to the advantages for the cook.
    First, this eliminates those awkward transfers that contaminate surfaces during the slippery salmonella phase. Second, using Jeff’s inverted appliance method, the surrounding tub can also serve as a slow roaster for your heartier winter vegetables. After securing the bird with plastic wrap, poke a few holes on the underside, place your veggies (whole) around the perimeter of the microwave, and cover with a heavy tarp. Another reason I prefer this method is that, unlike outdoor setups with no catchment, by cooking indoors I can still make my gravy from scratch.

    1. OMG! SUCH A GOOD HACK, GINA! With the added benefit of making my bathroom smell way better than it does currently. I wonder if I might do it without the tarp, though, which would have the added benefit of redecorating my bathroom with severed turkey limbs and a fine dust of bone fragments. Worth a shot?

      1. Great question! Absolutely the tarp is optional. It just depends on how serious you are about the quality of your gravy and how much time you have to spend. Believe me, if you stuff your turkey properly, your bathroom will get a gnarly makeover either way! (Don’t forget to take pics for your insurance claim after the holidays.)
        I like the tarp because it saves me the time and energy I would otherwise spend scraping sludge off the walls and ceiling. Between what lands in the tub and what sticks to the tarp (which I just spray off in the shower), you should be able to quickly and easily gather enough pulverized food, including that tasty bone powder, to make a nice start for several gallons of primo gravy.
        Once you strain (I use a leaf rake and dust pan) the projectiles and larger bits of food from the tub, you will be left with a flavorful, nutrient-rich porridge. The real beauty with this method, versus traditional gravy-making, is that you don’t have to be a chemist or worry about the “laws” of thermodynamics that frustrate the use of those crazy-making thickeners like corn starch.
        After plugging your tub, trickle on the hot water, whisk it up (leaf rake again) to the desired consistency, and season to taste! When I’m finished, to maintain a safe service temperature, I float a dozen or so hand-warmer packets on the surface (you can buy these online in bulk) and walk away!
        I hope this helps!

        *Remove hand-warmers before serving.

  6. Also my sister is a vegetarian, so what are the adjustments needed for cooking a tofurkey?

    1. Tofurky! YUM. The turkeys thank you!

      As you suspected, tofurky does require a few minor adjustments. But fewer than you might think. Presuming you’ll still need 25 pounds of tofurky, because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t need that much?, you simply need to reduce the amount of cooking time. Plant-based products come up to temperature faster than flesh-based products and are less likely to, you know, kill you with salmonella if you undercook them. Therefore, follow the same directions as with a 25 pound microwave turkey — being sure to include all the metal spoons and double wrap with foil — but set the timer to 30 minutes instead of 3 hours. To be clear, it will take the exact same amount of time to explode the microwave and obliterate the contents (as in, you should run as soon as you hit the “start” button), but it’s still critically important to set that timer correctly.

    2. Tofurkey does not even need the microwave as it is precooked so It just needs to be warmed. Use Gina’s Bathtub method. This is very important be sure to plug the bathtub! Then fill the tub half full tofurkey pile all of your vegetables in on top and turn the shower on as hot as you can get it. Make sure to leave your shower curtain open you will not want any of your precious tofurkey on that curtain. Walk out of the bathroom and close the door. You will know that the tofurkey is done when it finds it’s own way into the kitchen.

  7. We don’t celebrate thanksgiving in Australia, am I allowed to do this with a Christmas turkey? What will I need to change to make it a Christmas turkey instead of a thanksgiving turkey? Add mistletoe to its cavity? Can I just put the microwave out in the sun to let it cook, as it’ll be hotter than hell when summer arrives?

    1. Yum! Mistletoe flavored microwave turkey! What a brilliant twist on a classic, Mel.

      To answer your questions, YES, you are absolutely allowed to do this with a Christmas turkey. You’ve already come up with a flavorful stuffing, but you might also consider substituting silver and glass balls — the type one hangs on one’s Christmas tree — for the metal spoons prior to microwaving your turkey.

      Unfortunately, you can’t simply put your turkey outside to roast in the summer sun. There will be no microwave explosion that way, which will reduce the celebratory effect of this particular recipe. On the bright side, once you microwave your turkey, the mistletoe will disintegrate and is therefore less likely to poison you. Don’t worry too much if you ingest small amounts of mistletoe, however — once thought to be extremely poisonous, mistletoe is now understood to only cause mild gastrointestinal upset.

  8. Ironically, we’ve been cooking our bird this way for years. We’ve added an annual scavenger hunt as part of our Thanksgiving Day tradition. We hand out bags and protective eye wear to our guests and after it explodes, everyone runs to get their favorite pieces of meat. This year I’m adding a special twist for the kids, and I’ll be substituting matchbox cars and beyblades for the spoons. You’re welcome.

    1. TRACY. I’m laughing so hard.

    2. Question–how does your family do the wishbone tradition if the wishbone is already obliterated? Does the person who finds the biggest fragment have their wish come true?

    3. Very helpful, Tracy! Thanks for this fun idea. We always try to do an outdoor activity with the extended family on Thanksgiving, like intergenerational soccer, at which I suck hard. I like your family activity much better. Like a piñata, except without the burden of hitting it with a stick. The microwave does the heavy lifting… all we have to do is harvest the rewards. Great tip!

  9. Do these directions also work for turduckens, or is some modification required? Like do i have to put spoons inside EACH bird? Varying the size of spoon properly by bird, of course; otherwise wouldn’t it cook unevenly?

    1. Sarah — our community needs your help! I know this will come as a surprise, especially given my nearly unfathomable knowledge of microwave turkeys, but — confession — I’ve never microwaved a turducken. I suspect your modifications would work, varying spoon size by bird, reserving any baby spoons and/or grandmothers’ travel collectors spoons for the Cornish game hen that goes in the very center of the turducken, but this will take some experimentation to be sure. Can we count on you?

  10. Mine is 23 lbs, so I’m worried none of this applies. What do I do?

    1. EXCELLENT QUESTION. And so important because — although you may think otherwise — you cannot simply use 25 pound microwave turkey instructions for a 23 pound turkey. First of all, check and see if your microwave has an Automatic Turkey Cooking setting. If so, you’re all set, as the microwave will weigh your turkey for you and adjust accordingly. If for some inexplicable reasons, your microwave doesn’t have that setting, you need to go ahead and pack the turkey cavity with 2 pounds of EXTRA metal spoons to bring it up to the 25 pound mark. If you’ve already used all your spoons, you may substitute forks, being careful to reserve enough forks for feasting when you’re done. Don’t use knives; that’s dangerous.

  11. All of this reminds me of a Thanksgiving I celebrated in Latvia in 1993. My brother-in-law was studying in Moscow and came to visit with two American friends. We got some smoked chicken at the market, made a ton of mashed potatoes and some lime jello that one girl’s mom had send her, and served it up with plenty of cheap Russian champagne.

    1. Thanksgiving at your house this year! Jello and Russian booze. Sounds perfect.

  12. If I forgot to thaw the bird on Wednesday can I start it out on defrost before I cook it? #askingforafriend #imbringingthepotatoes

    1. I think you probably need to put it in the sink full of cold water today. You won’t need to have sink access between now and Thursday, will you? Of course not.

    2. Yes, absolutely. Everyone knows the BEST feature on a microwave is defrost. Now, be forewarned that it will defrost unevenly, leaving some parts like rubber and others still frozen, but that shouldn’t present a problem because a) turkey generally tastes like rubber anyway and b) the frozen bits will fully cook once the microwave is on fire.

  13. Is it okay to put stuffing in my microwave turkey? I really, really love stuffing.

    1. I think that would depend on whether you like moist stuffing, dry stuffing, or exploded stuffing that you have to hunt for like an Easter egg….

      1. But during the explosion phase, do the stuffing bits (like celery, or chestnuts) become shrapnel? Do I need to provide ballistic vests and face shields to the guests?

    2. YES — you can totally put stuffing in your microwave turkey. It’s a little less stuffing than you can put in an oven turkey because you have to also leave room for all the metal spoons you’re shoving in that cavity (see directions for How to Microwave a 25 Pound Turkey from yesterday’s blog post), but the fantastic news is you don’t have to worry about bacteria and disease. As you know, cooking stuffing in an oven turkey can be problematic because it doesn’t necessarily get up to the temperature needed to kill all the critters inside. With a microwave, that’s not a problem, since it cooks from the middle out. The hot spot IS the stuffing in a microwave turkey, AND the spoons will definitely spark and light the stuffing on fire, and I think we can all agree that stuffing cooked in an inferno is WELL COOKED stuffing.

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