10 Thanksgiving Turkey Horror Stories

Ever burned your bird beyond recognition? Or forgot to remove the plastic-wrapped giblets before roasting? You're not alone. Our brave home cooks share their funniest - and most tragic - turkey tales.

Part of: Thanksgiving: Turkey

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Fail #1: Overcooking a Still-Frozen Bird

"My Thanksgiving failure was when I didn't allow enough time for the turkey to thaw. When it came time to cook the still-frozen bird, I decided that cranking the oven to 500 degrees would surely cook the bird — not so much! The outside of the turkey was burnt and the inside was still raw!" -Chef #832369

Our Tip: Give yourself extra time for defrosting — it always takes longer than you think!

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Fail #2: Brining in a Turkey Bag

"The first time I brined a turkey I didn't have a bucket or pot big enough, so I used a turkey bag. As soon as I poured all the brine into the bag with the turkey, it split open and liquid went everywhere!" -KCShell

Our Tip: To brine your bird with minimal spills, use a new 5-gallon bucket or a clean cooler.

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Fail #3: Not Keeping an Eye on the Bird

"Years ago, I attended a Thanksgiving dinner with friends in a small apartment. At one point, I looked into the kitchen and saw that the cat had his head inside the turkey. We ate it anyway, as the cat watched us while licking his paws." -Teresa Pullium

Our Tip: Keep an eye on the bird, lock up any pets and have a sense of humor!

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Fail #4: Deep Frying Without Directions

"On my first Thanksgiving with my husband, we decided to deep-fry the turkey. Somehow we lost the fryer directions and decided to wing it. We accidentally doubled the amount of cooking time so the turkey came out crispy-black and about half the size it started out as. We ate plenty of sides that year!" -Chandra Crowley

Our Tip: Follow a recipe, especially if it's your first time!

Here's our favorite deep-fried turkey recipe with step-by-step directions.
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Title-17Fail #5: Falling Prey to Turkey Pranks

"One year when our neighbors were at church, we snuck over to their house and substituted a Cornish game hen for their turkey and took their real turkey to roast in our oven. Boy were their faces red when they brought the 'tiny turkey' to share!" -Paula Martin

Our Tip: Always lock your front door and beware of mischievous neighbors!

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Fail #6: Not Removing the Giblets

"I searched and searched the cavity, but could not find the giblets so I assumed the store had already removed them for me. Roasting went fine, but as we carved the bird, we found the overly-steamed giblets and ended up with a plastic-flavored bird!" -lauralie41

Our Tip: Even if you don't think the giblets are in there after a good look, grab a flashlight and search again — they're still in there!

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Fail #7: Ignoring Oven Issues

"The control panel on our oven started acting up before Thanksgiving, but I didn't worry about it. On Thanksgiving Day, while the turkey was roasting in the oven, the panel started blinking and then shot up super high and the oven door locked shut. We had to kill the circuit breaker and wait until the oven cooled down to unlock it. Dinner was a little late that year!" -Diane DeeDee

Our Tip: Make sure your oven is in working order. Also, have plenty of appetizers on the big day — it makes waiting for dinner easier!

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Fail #8: No Backup Plan

"One year I was smoking my turkey and accidentally spilled wine into the charcoal pan, and ash went flying everywhere! The turkey was fine, but the liquid in the pan was ruined — I couldn't use it to make gravy. I used chicken stock instead and made the gravy without any drippings — put in enough mushrooms and your gravy will always be a success!" -duonyte

Our Tip: Keep a few jars of pre-made gravy and a box of stuffing on hand in case disaster strikes!

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Fail #9: Not Measuring Your Oven

"Years ago I was hosting a large group, so I needed a huge 26-pound turkey and it almost didn't fit in the oven. We had to move the roaster around a bit and find a place where the turkey wouldn't touch the top of the oven. I covered the top of the turkey with foil so it wouldn't burn before it was even roasted!" -lauralie41

Our Tip: Make sure you measure the interior of your oven before you buy the bird.

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Fail #10: Not Testing Your Oven

"Many years ago I was roasting my turkey in the oven as I always did, but I failed to realize that the bottom burners had stopped working. The turkey came out looking perfect and the timer button had popped out too. As soon as it came time to carve it, I realized that everything below the top was raw!" -Sharon Donelow

Our Tip: Test your oven by doing a dry run and roasting a chicken a few weeks before.

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