Turkey Button Not Popping? Don’t Panic, Do This Instead

Last Updated on March 21, 2023

Has your turkey been in the oven for what seems like forever, but that darn turkey button just refuses to pop? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a simple solution.

Roasted turkey with a pop-up timer

What To Do If Your Turkey Pop-Up Timer Won’t Pop

If your turkey button isn’t popping, the most likely explanation is that your turkey isn’t finished cooking. The other possibility is that the popper is defective and your turkey is being cooked to death as you read this.

As you’ll see later in this guide, turkey pop-up timers are just not reliable and we don’t recommend using them.

The best way to know for certain that your turkey is fully cooked is to check the temperature with a digital meat thermometer.

A good meat thermometer is way more accurate than a pop-up timer and it will allow you to take your bird’s temperature in multiple places to ensure all parts of the turkey are fully cooked.

Meat thermometers come in different styles. You should get one that is both instant read and digital. Instant read is important because it gives you a temperature readout in just a second or two. And a digital display is just easier to read.

Another helpful feature to look for is a backlit display so you can read the temperature under low light conditions.

When you take your turkey’s temperature, stick the thermometer in a few different places. Aim for the thickest part of each breast, the joint between the thigh and the body, and the joint between the drumstick and thigh.

The short video below demonstrates exactly where to stick the thermometer to check a turkey’s temperature so there’s no guessing at all.

The USDA says your turkey is safe to eat when all 3 of those areas hit 165 F, but you can remove it a little earlier (155F to 160 F) because it will continue to cook while it rests.

How Do Turkey Pop-Up Timers Work?

A turkey’s pop-up timer looks like a little button sticking out of the breast meat. It’s a small piece of plastic that’s stuck inside many turkeys you’ll find at the supermarket, though not all brands use them.

The button is an ingenious invention designed to pop up when the internal temperature of the turkey reaches a specific temperature. Inside plastic casing, there’s a small piece of metal that holds the pop-up button in place. When the temperature reaches a certain point the metal melts and a spring pops the button so you know the turkey is done.

We don’t recommend relying on the pop-up timer that comes with a turkey. instead, use an instant read thermometer that will give you a more accurate temperature reading.

Related: How To Smoke A Whole Turkey

Are Turkey Poppers Reliable?

Turkey pop-up timers are not reliable. They sometimes pop early, resulting in an undercooked turkey that could make your guests sick. They may also pop up late or not at all, resulting in a dry, overcooked bird that no one will enjoy.

Can You Buy Pop-Up Timers?

If your turkey doesn’t come with a built-in pop-up timer, you can purchase them in stores or on Amazon. Here’s a quick link if you want to check it out, though we don’t recommend using pop-up timers.

You’re much better off investing in a reliable meat thermometer. You can pick one up for less than $20 and it will last you the rest of your life. Plus it’s not just good for turkeys. You can use a meat thermometer for steaks, pork butt, a roast beef, meatloaf, and just about anything you cook.

A good digital thermometer is a key component in any grill master’s toolbox.