Should You Rinse a Turkey Before Cooking?

Preparing the ingredients for your Thanksgiving feast is an hours-long process. Youll want to scrub potatoes, soak the broccoli in salt water and re-wash the pre-washed lettuce. It turns out that washing your turkey is not the proper way to avoid bacteria. You might assume that since washing fruits and vegetables is the right way to avoid unwanted bacteria, washing your turkey should follow suit. In fact, it actually makes the situation a whole lot worse.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and of course, delicious food But before you can enjoy that perfectly roasted turkey, there’s the question of whether or not you should rinse it first.

The answer is a resounding NO! ‍♀️

Here’s why:

  • Washing your turkey doesn’t actually remove bacteria. In fact, it can spread bacteria around your kitchen, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Cooking your turkey to the proper temperature of 165°F is the best way to kill bacteria.
  • Rinsing your turkey can make your turkey dry and less flavorful.

So, what should you do instead of washing your turkey?

  • Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity. These can be used to make gravy or stock.
  • Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. This will help the skin crisp up in the oven.
  • Season the turkey with your favorite herbs and spices.

If you’ve brined your turkey you’ll need to rinse it before cooking.

Here’s how to do it safely:

  • Remove all other food or objects from the sink.
  • Line the sink with paper towels.
  • Use a slow stream of water to avoid splashing.
  • Rinse the outside and inside cavity of the bird with cool water.
  • Hold the bird up to drain the water from the cavity before transferring it to a roasting pan.
  • Throw away the paper towels and thoroughly disinfect your sink and surrounding countertop.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap.

By following these simple tips you can ensure that your Thanksgiving turkey is cooked safely and deliciously.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Additional Resources:

Why Is Washing a Turkey Dangerous?It may seem like a clean process, but washing a 15-pound turkey causes a lot of splashing near the kitchen sink. The backsplash coming off the turkey could mean contamination of food that will be placed on the counter later.

  • Before you prepare the bird, use hot, soapy water to disinfect your countertops. Learn how to clean granite countertops.
  • Before handling the turkey and for 20 seconds after, wash your hands in warm, soapy water. Use this expert-recommended hand-washing technique.
  • For raw turkey, use a different cutting board and handle it according to the recommended methods.
  • After removing the bird’s giblets, use paper towels to dry the cavity.
  • Look for and remove any feather quills that seem to be attached to the turkey’s skin.
  • Never put fresh produce or cooked food on a plate, counter, or other surface that was previously used to hold raw turkey.
  • After preparing the bird, wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops in hot, soapy water.
  • It’s also smart to keep raw turkey away from other foods you are buying at the grocery store, and keep it separate from other foods when

Should You Rinse Raw Turkey/Chicken Before Cooking or Not? A Doctor Explains


Do you need to rinse a turkey before cooking?

Wash your hands, but not the turkey! Many consumers think that washing their turkey will remove bacteria and make it safer. However, it’s virtually impossible to wash bacteria off the bird. Instead, juices that splash during washing can transfer bacteria onto the surfaces of your kitchen, other foods and utensils.

Why do people rinse their turkey?

Some cooks may mistakenly think that rinsing poultry can help rid it of bacteria and make it safe for cooking and consumption. This is unnecessary and can actually increase the chances of your family getting sick if other food comes in contact with moisture from the raw turkey.

How do I keep my turkey from drying out?

“When roasting the whole bird, the key is to cook the legs longer than the breast,” Tommy says. “Once the breast is cooked, remove the bird from the oven, remove the legs and then put them back in. This stops the breasts drying out.”

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