(CNN)Whether it's your first time cooking a turkey or you are a poultry aficionado, mishaps can happen in the kitchen, especially at the 11th hour.
That's where Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line comes in. For the past 40 years during the holidays, these hotline experts have been available to help people troubleshoot their turkey troubles.
Karen Wilcher has been a Turkey Talk-Line specialist for 10 years and shared her best tips and tricks for cooking a delicious turkey every time.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
CNN: If someone has never cooked a turkey before, where should they start?
Karen Wilcher: The easiest way to cook your turkey would be to roast it in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're using a frozen turkey, you need to make sure it's thawed by Thanksgiving. It takes about a week to thaw a turkey, so it's recommended people move their frozen bird to the fridge the Thursday before Thanksgiving, which we like to call National Thaw Day.
If you forget to thaw it until the day before, at this point we'd recommend the water bath method. This is where you submerge your turkey in its original wrapper in cold water. You should change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. For a turkey as large as 24 pounds, you can get it properly thawed in 12 to 15 hours with this method.
Once thawed, take it out of its packaging and remove the package of giblets. Next, pat the turkey dry with a towel, brush some olive oil on it, then put it on a roasting rack in the oven. Butterball has plenty of recipes online for seasoning options.
CNN: How long does it really take for a turkey to cook in the oven?
Wilcher: A 10- to 18-pound turkey that has no stuffing should take three to 3 1/2 hours to cook while a 20- to 24-pound turkey should take four to 4 1/2 hours. If you have stuffing inside, add 45 to 60 minutes more of cooking time.
Basting is also unnecessary. Every time you open the oven door to baste, you are slowing the cooking process. The liquid doesn't necessarily penetrate the skin so it's not doing much.