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Two Small Turkeys for Thanksgiving Can be Better than One Large Turkey: Tips on Cooking Two Turkeys

Posted on October 27 2022

Tips on Cooking Two Turkeys

Weighing in at about 20 pounds, the turkey that many families put on the table at Thanksgiving tends to be excessively large.


These birds can be very hard to cook properly. A large bird spends a long time in the oven, meaning that lean, delicate parts like the breast tend to become dry and tough. Meanwhile, the legs and thighs tend to be undercooked: white meat cooks faster than dark meat. This could be one reason why many people simply like to pass on the turkey at the Thanksgiving table. However, more and more people are getting on board with an easy solution: rather than buy a large, unwieldy bird, they buy two small, 10-pound turkeys.


Smaller turkeys come with a number of advantages

  • You need to thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator to ensure that there is no bacterial growth. Considering how you need to allow 24 hours of thawing time in the refrigerator for every 5 pounds of frozen turkey, a 20-pound bird takes up space in your refrigerator for four days. You may not have that much space to spare for this long. Two 10-pound turkeys, however, only need to thaw for two days.
  • Smaller turkeys cook faster, and you can cook them together at the same time. For this reason, you won't need to leave your turkeys in the oven for very long. There is less risk of overcooking and drying out some parts.
  • Since small turkeys cook quickly, you'll have an easier time supervising the cooking in the oven. You won't have to stay alert and keep basting them for a long time.
  • Smaller turkeys tend to be younger than larger turkeys. The meat tends to be moister, more tender, and more flavorful.
  • You get two wishbones.


Grocery stores are beginning to notice that some people are switching to smaller turkeys and are catering to the demand. Even as they try to stock up on them, however, they tend to be in short supply. If you would like to get two small turkeys for your Thanksgiving feast this year, you might want to start looking a little early and look at more different stores than you would usually try.


How do you cook two turkeys at the same time?

  • Thaw and season the two small turkeys.
  • Set your oven to 325°F, and preheat.
  • Get two roasting pans, and place a turkey in each, breast side up, on a wire rack. Or one pan if the turkeys are similar size and fit. 
  • Pour a little water into each pan
  • Arrange the pans next to each other in the oven, spacing them about an inch apart.
  • Let the birds cook until the breast reaches a temperature of 165°F at its deepest point.
  • Consider using our Turkey Bags for an even tastier turkey. 


A few tips to help make sure that your turkeys roast correctly

  • Once you've finished preheating your oven, you will need to raise the temperature to 350°F. At this temperature, you should plan for 15 minutes of cooking time a pound. You only need to calculate the roasting time for one bird, typically the larger one. You can take the smaller bird out earlier if there's a significant difference in size. However, if the birds contain stuffing, an additional hour would be a good idea.
  • Once every 30 minutes, make sure to turn the turkeys around to help make sure that the heat reaches every part of each bird.
  • Baste each turkey then cover them with aluminum foil for the last 30 minutes. This should help brown them while making sure that moisture isn't lost.
  • When you use a meat thermometer to check that the temperature in the thickest part of the breast is 165°F, you need to make sure that the device doesn't hit bone. Doing this could alter the temperature reading.


Finally, you should keep in mind that roasting isn't the only way to prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving. You could smoke, sous vide, grill, or deep fry, as well. Some people even use an electric roaster. Whichever way you choose to get your turkey ready to eat, it's important to remember that smaller birds are easier to handle and often give you better results.

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