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(Las Vegas, NV) — Thanksgiving is just about here and with that there are tips on how to prepare the turkey.

Whether your bird is small or large the Southern Nevada Health District has you covered so you can enjoy the day without any cooking issues.


  • If you buy a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days in advance.
  • A frozen turkey should be defrosted in the refrigerator and allow 24 hours to defrost for every four to five pounds. Never defrost a turkey on the kitchen counter.
  • Keep the turkey in the original bag to prevent raw juices from contaminating other food in the fridge.
  • If you thaw the turkey in a sink, keep cool water (70° F) running over it and cook it immediately.


  • Turkey must reach a minimal internal temperature of 165°F or above to ensure safety.
  • Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey (the breast) to ensure the bird has reached the correct internal temperature (a stuffed turkey would require longer cooking times).

Use the following guidelines for cooking instructions

Size                                   Cooking Time

  • 8-12 pounds               2 ¾ -3 hours
  • 12-14 pounds             3-3 ¾ hours
  • 14-18 pounds             3 ¾ -4 ¼ hours
  • 18-20 pounds             4 ¼ -4 ½ hours
  • 20-24 pounds             4 ½ – 5 hours

More tips can be found at

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