United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service PhotoDisc www.fsis.usda.gov Food Safety Information Turkey Basics: Stuffing Food Thermometer 1. Prepare Stuffing Safely 3. Cook Immediately Essential When Stuffing a Immediately place the stuffed, Turkey If you plan to prepare stuffing raw turkey in an oven set no lower using raw meat, poultry, or than 325 °F. For optimal safety and uniform shellfish, you should cook these doneness, cook stuffing separately. ingredients before stuffing the 4. Use a Food However, if stuffing a turkey, it’s turkey to reduce the risk of Thermometer essential to use a food thermometer foodborne illness from bacteria that to make sure the center of the may be found in raw ingredients. For safety and doneness, check stuffing reaches a safe minimum The wet ingredients for stuffing the internal temperature of the internal temperature of 165 °F. can be prepared ahead of time and turkey and stuffing with a food Cooking a home-stuffed turkey refrigerated. However, do not mix thermometer. is somewhat riskier than cooking wet and dry ingredients until just If the temperature of the turkey one not stuffed. Even if the turkey before spooning the stuffing mixture and the center of the stuffing has reached the safe minimum into the turkey cavity. have not reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as If stuffing is prepared ahead internal temperature of 165 °F, measured in the innermost part of of time, it must be cooked further cooking will be required. the thigh, the wing and the thickest immediately and refrigerated in Do not remove the stuffing from part of the breast, the stuffing may shallow containers. Do not stuff the turkey before it reaches 165 °F not have reached a temperature whole poultry with cooked stuffing. because the undercooked stuffing high enough to destroy bacteria could contaminate the cooked meat. that may be present. 2. Stuff Loosely Continue to cook the turkey until Bacteria can survive in stuffing the stuffing is safely cooked. that has not reached 165 °F, Do not cool the stuffing. Spoon possibly resulting in foodborne it directly into the turkey cavity 5. Let It Rest illness. right after preparation. Stuff the turkey loosely – about 3/4 cup of Let the cooked turkey stand Frozen Turkeys Stuffed stuffing per pound. The stuffing 20 minutes before removing the at the Plant Under USDA should be moist, not dry, because stuffing and carving. Inspection heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a moist environment. 6. Refrigerate Promptly The USDA does not recommend Do not stuff turkeys to buying retail-stuffed, uncooked be grilled, smoked, fried, or Refrigerate the cooked turkey turkeys from a store or restaurant. microwaved. and stuffing within 2 hours after However, some turkeys cooking. Place leftovers in shallow purchased frozen have been stuffed containers and use within 3 to 4 at a plant under USDA inspection. days. Reheat leftovers to a safe These turkeys are safe when cooked from the frozen state as per the minimum internal temperature of manufacturer’s package directions. 165 ºF. Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline AskKaren.gov 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) For automated Year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. responses via the to 4 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food Internet 24 hours safety messages are available 24 hours a day. a day and a live chat during Send E-mail questions to MPHotline.email@example.com. Hotline hours. FSIS encourages the reprint and distribution of this publication for food safety The USDA is an equal opportunity purposes. However, the included image from PhotoDisc, used under license, is provider and employer. protected by the copyright laws of the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere, and may not be Reviewed September 2011 saved or downloaded except for printing of this publication.