Thanksgiving Turkey Tips and Helplines (Video)

Categories: Holidays
Butterball Turkey
You can make the perfect turkey ... with a little help.
Thanksgiving is a time when families gather around the dinner table for a fabulous, decadent meal of perfectly made golden brown turkey with all the trimmings. The only problem is that unless you're Martha Stewart, you probably won't get it right.

Questions run through our minds like how do I thaw out, then cook the turkey? When do I brine or baste? If I cook the stuffing in the turkey, will I kill my guests with bacteria?

Don't panic. Seek Help. Operating much like any helpline, these online and phone-based lifelines are staffed with real live cooking experts designed to talk you down from the proverbial holiday ledge.

We've compiled a list of websites and helplines that are open now through Thanksgiving day. Take a deep breath, because help is just a phone call or click away.

Martha Stewart Radio Thanksgiving Hotline
Martha Stewart has put together a group of celebrity chefs including Emeril Lagasse, Sara Moulton, and Eric Ripert to help you through any Thanksgiving-related disasters during the fifth annual Martha Stewart Living Radio Thanksgiving Hotline. Today, November 22nd and tomorrow Wednesday, November 23,Martha and friends will be available to answer your questions, live on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius/XM satellite. Even if you can't listen, you can call the helpline at 866-675-6675 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.

Foster Farms Helpline
This California-based turkey farm raised the Presidential turkey that was offered a pardon last year and the company offers a website filled with turkey tips and a turkey helpline, though they're closed on Thanksgiving day. Speak with a live customer service rep today or tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST by calling 1-800-255-7227.

U.S.D.A. Meat Hotline

If you're afraid of killing your guests or like to talk to friendly bureaucrats, this hotline is for you. The hotline has a series of pre-recorded messages that answer all your questions on safe meat handling, cross-contamination, and how not to send everyone to the hospital. Though the site promises a live person Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., we tried twice during those hours and still got a (helpful) recording. You can also "Ask Karen", for advice by accessing a drop down menu of options like "safe food handling", and "food storage" here. 1-888-MPHOTLINE.

Reynolds Kitchen Helpline
Reynolds Wrap has a website offering Thanksgiving recipes like pumpkin cake, mashed potatoes, and roasted vegetables -- all using Reynolds Wrap. Their hotline offers pre-recorded turkey thawing and roasting help. 1-800-745-4000

Butterball Turkey Talk Line
The first and best known hotline takes about 100,000 calls a year from frustrated chefs, according to director Mary Clingman. Not to worry, because when we called, we waited less than two minutes before one of the hotline's 61 ladies cheerily asked how she could help us. According to Clingman, every helpline lady is a professional home economist, cook book author, or cooking instructor. Not only will they answer questions about how to cook a moist turkey, they'll help you with shopping tips, food safety, and recipes for side dishes and desserts. The helpline is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and tomorrow, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thanksgiving day. Call them at 1-800-BUTTERBALL or email them at

Winn-Dixie's online tip site, filled with easy to follow recipes and videos, this site will walk you through how to cook a turkey, make mashed potatoes, and bake the perfect pie. No live chat or helpline, but some good tips, like this video on how to roast the perfect bird:

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