I update the turkey cooking time data every year based on averaging from various turkey producer recommendations.
How Long To Cook A Turkey?
Your time may vary! So plan for a bit “more” time, just in case. If it’s done sooner than you expect, you can always take it out and let it rest (advisable anyway). There are some variables with how long to cook a turkey. And your own turkey might cook a bit different. But the following information should get you fairly close for estimating the time you should plan for cooking a turkey.
How long it takes to cook a turkey depends on the oven temperature, whether the turkey is stuffed or not, how many pounds the turkey weighs, and the “doneness” temperature.
The following Turkey Cooking Time Chart is a guideline. Your results may vary, but this should help give you an idea! (More tips below!)
FIRST, A RECOMMENDATION, After looking at the time chart and tips, I would plan a little longer time than listed. Maybe half an hour longer… Why? Because it might be better to have the turkey done early (it can ‘rest’ while staying warm enough), rather than not being done while everyone is waiting for Thanksgiving Dinner!
Cooking times are based on an oven temperature of 325 degrees-F. This is the preferred temperature for cooking a turkey according to most all brand recommendations. You should check your oven temperature for accuracy! (more information below).
I feel that this is a good general turkey cooking time chart because I have combined and extrapolated the average cooking times from Butterball, Honeysuckle, Jenni-O, Norbest, Shady Brook, and Foster Farms.
I believe this will provide a more accurate average typical time that it may take to cook a turkey as cross referenced with pound weight.
TURKEY COOKING TIME CHART
Turkey Roasting Time
DOWNLOAD: TURKEY COOKING TIME CHART
( The image above reflects the same information. )
Turkey Cooking Time – Minutes per Pound
Averaged from the popular brands of Turkey listed above, cooked at 325 degrees-F,
Cook an unstuffed turkey for about 15 minutes per pound.
Cook a stuffed turkey for about 17 minutes per pound.
A widely publicized general average is 20 minutes per pound.
The Best Way To Know Turkey Is Done
IMPORTANT: The only true way to determine if a turkey is safely cooked all the way through, is by measuring the internal temperature of the bird with a meat thermometer. For an accurate reading, the thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of a thigh not touching the bone, and also check the center of the breast.
“Turkey is done and safe to eat when internal dark meat temperature reads 180 degrees F.”
With that said, we generally take ours out at 165-F. Just saying…
I recommend the following long probe, near instant-read thermometer:
Long Probe Instant-Read Meat Thermometer
(view on amzn)
Cooking (roasting) the turkey low and slow (325-F) results in a more juicy tender bird than higher temperatures which may dry it out quicker.
Oven Temperatures Vary, So Will Your Turkey Cooking Time
Be aware that there is variability in actual real world oven temperatures compared with what they’re actually set to. Some may be off by as much as 25-degrees. This will affect your turkey cooking time (either shorter or longer).
Verify With Oven Temperature Thermometer
Tip: Use an Oven Thermometer to verify the accuracy of your own oven. I recommend the following:
Taylor Precision Oven Thermometer
(view on amzn)
The turkey cooking time recommendations from each of the mentioned brands vary somewhat. That’s why combining them together as an average should provide you with a close approximation as to what you may expect from your own oven.
How Big a Turkey Should I Get?
Turkey cooking time certainly depends on how big the turkey is!
Here’s a general guideline to figure out how many pounds that turkey should be:
These recommendations presume you want leftovers and everyone is a ‘big eater’ (who isn’t on Thanksgiving, right?!)
Number of Adults | Turkey Pounds
4 | 8 lbs.
6 | 12 lbs.
8 | 16 lbs.
10 | 20 lbs.
12 | 24 lbs.
( just extrapolate for kids who will eat less)
How Soon Can I Carve The Turkey?
Let your turkey ‘rest’ for 20 minutes before carving.
How Long Does It Take To Thaw A Frozen Turkey?
In the refrigerator, 3 to 5 days (15 to 20 pounds)
In a cold water bath, 7 to 10 hours (15 to 20 pounds)
[ Read: HOW TO SAFELY THAW A FROZEN TURKEY ]
How To Brine A Turkey
- Rinse the turkey in cool water.
- In a clean container large enough to hold the turkey, mix your favorite brine recipe solution and ingredients.
- Submerge the turkey in the brine solution. If there is not enough brine to cover make additional brine. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours.
- Remove the turkey from the brine. Discard brine. Do not use brine. Pat skin and cavities dry.
- Roast turkey according to directions and cooking time chart.
Are there any other Turkey Tips that you would like to share?