‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten Shares the 1 Mistake Everyone Makes with Their Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving menus vary in different regions of the country, but one thing many have in common is the turkey. It’s the most popular main dish whether you bake it for hours or deep fry it in the backyard. However, even something as simple as preparing a turkey takes a bit of skill.

Food Network star and Barefoot Contessa host Ina Garten knows a bit about cooking turkeys. Along with other Thanksgiving advice, she revealed the one mistake so many home cooks make when it comes to making a turkey.

Ina Garten keeps dishing up Thanksgiving meal prep advice

Ina Garten
Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Every year in November, Garten heads to social media to keep her loyal following informed about her menu plans. She’s big on tradition but often includes a fun twist with her recipes. For example, in 2020 the Barefoot Contessa star is planning to update two dessert recipes by adding a bit of booze. This year, her pared-down menu is perfect for a smaller crowd.

From main dishes to sides to appetizers and cocktails, Garten has little nuggets of wisdom for every aspect of your Thanksgiving meal. But perhaps the most important thing she shared was how to make the perfect turkey.

‘Barefoot Contessa’ fought her mother-in-law over a turkey once

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No one wants a dry, overcooked turkey like the one they serve in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. And that’s exactly what Garten thinks too many people do — they leave the turkey in the oven way too long.

According to Food&Wine, the cookbook author got into an argument with her mother-in-law the year after she and husband Jeffrey Garten got married. “His mom was like, the turkey looks like it’s done, but it’s not. No, it really was done. People don’t need to keep cooking and cooking the thing,” Garten said.

She recommends cooking a turkey for 2.5 hours instead of the standard 6 hours. “We’re used to cooking protein for too long, and then forgetting to let it rest,” Garten continued. “When it rests it, really keeps cooking. I undercook thing by about 10 degrees and let it rest.”

Ina Garten loves to cook the turkey but won’t carve it for a crowd

It’s no surprise that Garten is a whiz in the kitchen and more than happy to prepare every course of the Thanksgiving feast. When it comes to plating and serving, however, she prefers to defer to someone else. Or at the very least, she’ll do it in private.

The Barefoot Contessa previously said she slices the turkey in advance and puts the pieces in the oven on a low setting to keep them warm, constantly covering them with gravy so they don’t dry out.

And some years she’s content to skip all the fuss and just eat leftovers. She recalled one year when she and Jeffrey enjoyed turkey sandwiches instead of pulling out all the stops. “It was really fun,” Garten told Bon Appetit.

The wild year of 2020 sounds like the perfect time to experiment with a non-traditional feast. But no matter what, it’s imperative not to overcook the turkey.