Below are our top turkey tips to ensure that your holiday cooking is a breeze and your turkey is a tender juicy success!
Ensuring you have a game plan will make the holiday’s much less stressful and ensure a beautiful roast turkey.
Factors to Consider
The following are just a few things that can affect how long to cook a turkey. I strongly suggest a meat thermometer.
- Turkey Size: Larger turkeys take longer to cook. It’s generally estimated that for every pound of turkey, you need about 15 minutes of cooking time at 325°F (165°C).
- Starting Temperature: Turkey should be removed from the fridge for a while before it goes into the oven. A cold, straight-from-the-fridge turkey will need extra time.
- Stuffing: A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook. The stuffing inside needs to reach 165°F (74°C) for safety, which can add to the overall cooking time.
- Roasting Pan: Dark roasting pans cook faster than shiny, reflective ones. Using a rack also helps air circulate around the turkey, cooking it more evenly and quickly.
- Basting: Frequent basting can increase cooking time as the oven loses heat every time it’s opened.
What Temperature to Cook a Turkey
Cook a turkey at 325°F. Place turkey, breast side up in a sturdy shallow pan that can hold the juices as the turkey roasts, you’ll need these juices to make gravy with!
Before cooking, the most important thing is to prepare your raw turkey properly. Make sure it is fully thawed so it cooks evenly (and safely) once it gets into the oven. Thawing from frozen is critical for a safely prepared turkey. Keep it in its original packaging while thawing so it doesn’t leak anywhere and create a food safety hazard.
How Long to Cook a Turkey
The general rule for cooking an unstuffed turkey is 20 minutes per pound, and a stuffed turkey of the same size will generally take about another hour. A 15-pound turkey should take a little less than 4 hours to roast. Always be sure to your turkey with a meat thermometer and make certain it reaches a safe 165°F in the center of the stuffing and in the meat.
Stuffing should always be chilled (and never warm) before stuffing a turkey and should only be stuffed right before cooking.
Cooking Times For a Whole Turkey
How to Check the Temperature of a Turkey
For an accurate temperature reading, place the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh or breast, avoiding touching the bones or going into the cavity. For turkey breasts, insert it into the center. A fully cooked turkey should show 165°F in both the meat and stuffing, as per USDA.
Keep an eye on the turkey as it finishes cooking. If the skin browns too much, loosely cover it with foil for the last third of the cooking time.
How To Rest a Turkey Before Carving
Remove the turkey from the oven when it reaches 160°F; it will continue to cook to 165°F as it rests. Let it rest for 20 minutes before carving to seal in the juices. If stuffed, remove the stuffing before carving for easier handling.
Once the turkey reaches 165°F, transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet or platter and loosley cover it with foil for at least 20 minutes. Reserve the juices and any brown bits in the pan to make turkey gravy.