If this is the first year you are the host for Thanksgiving, you probably have a host of questions. At the top of the list of turkey questions we can answer: turkey cooking times. Because turkey cooking times are dependent on many variables, we have a lot of information for you. You’re sure to find the combination of factors that will lead you to the turkey cooking times you’re looking for. And all those other questions? Check out all of our other articles with Thanksgiving help.
The first thing to consider when planning when to put the turkey in the oven is the stuffing. A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook than an unstuffed turkey. Assuming you are roasting your turkey in a 325°F oven, plan on 15 to 17 minutes of cooking time for each pound of an unstuffed turkey. Plan on 20 to 22 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.
What that means on the real world of your kitchen is this for an unstuffed turkey:
|Turkey size||8-12 lb.||12-14 lb.||14-18 lb.||18-20 lb.|
|Time||2¾-3 hours||3-3¾ hours||3¾-4¼ hours||4¼-4½ hours|
Keep in mind that the times are approximate. The best way to know when your turkey is cooked is to take its temperature with either a quick-read thermometer or a meat thermometer. When the thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh but not touching the bone, the turkey is done when the temp reaches 180°F. in addition, the thigh and drumstick meat should feel soft when pressed, and when the thigh is pierced with a fork the juices should run clear, not pink. If you have stuffed the turkey, be sure to check the temp on the stuffing, too. It should register 165°F in the center.
All of the above information is for a standard oven. If you are using a convection oven, be sure to check the temperature of your turkey an hour before the recommended time: It will cook faster, and you don’t want an overcooked bird.