With Thanksgiving nearly here, turkey baking is on the minds of many. Here we have provided the 8 most common mistakes people make when preparing the bird so that the dinner can taste its best.

Try to Avoid the following:

  • Buying fresh turkeys too early. Buy your turkey no more than two days in advance of cooking it.
  • Not having a meat thermometer. Thermometers are available in supermarkets. Once you have yours insert it into the deepest part of several areas of the bird to test for temperature.
  • Overstuffing the turkey. Stuffing inside the turkey takes longer to reach a safe temperature. It's best to cook the stuffing separately.
  • Opening the door of the oven too much when cooking the turkey. If you're going to baste the turkey on a regular basis, take it out of the oven quickly and close the oven door. Baste it and then return it to the oven quickly.
  • Overcooking the Turkey. The turkey should be taken out of the oven when the temperature registers no more than 165F. If you want the meat to reach 165F it is recommended that you take it out when it hits between 155 and 160F and let it rise 5 to 10 degrees while it rests.
  • Making the turkey's skin too dark. When the skin looks brown tent it with foil to slow the browning or baste it every hour or so.
  • Not letting the bird rest. After taking it out of the oven the turkey must rest for at least 20 minutes or 30 minutes.
  • Ignoring how to carve the turkey. Use a sharp carving knife and a sturdy fork. Cut out legs and thighs first. Slice meat from thighs and legs thinly, then follow with the breast meat.
  • Of course don't forget about preparing and cooking your turkey safely. Wash hands and clean your work area. Use two separate cutting boards during preparation, one for raw meat and one for vegetables, the USDA says.

    Divide leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate within 2 hours. Use refrigerated leftovers within 3 to 4 days or freeze for 3 to 4 months.