Thanksgiving can be quite a multi-day cooking marathon. All the planning often centers throughout the main event—that giant, glistening turkey. We’ll let you know what size turkey to get and the way long it needs to roast in order to plan your holiday.
- 1 Learn how to cook a turkey with the help of our Test Kitchen.
- 2 How to Check the Temperature of the Turkey
- 3 What Size Turkey to Buy
- 4 What Temperature to Cook a Turkey
- 5 How Long to Cook a Turkey per Pound
- 6 How do I get crispy, brown skin on my turkey?
- 7 Should I baste my turkey?
Learn how to cook a turkey with the help of our Test Kitchen.
How Long Does It Take to Cook a Turkey?
Use this chart to understand how much time to cook a turkey, in accordance with its size:
Turkey Weight Cooking Time Doneness Temperature 4-6 lb. breast 1 hr 30 mins–2 hrs 15 mins 165°F 6-8 lb. breast 2 hrs 15 mins–3 hrs 15 mins 165°F 8-12 lbs. 2 hrs 45 mins–3 hrs 170-175°F 12-14 lbs. 3 hrs–3 hrs 45 mins 170-175°F 14-18 lbs. 3 hrs 45 mins–4 hrs 15 mins 170-175°F 18-20 lbs. 4 hrs 15 mins–4 hrs 30 mins 170-175°F 20-24 lbs. 4 hrs 30 mins–5 hrs 170-175°F
Note: All times are accurate for the 325°F oven.
How to Check the Temperature of the Turkey
To find out if your turkey is fully cooked, insert a meat thermometer into the meatiest, thickest area of the bird (typically the thighs). You’re aiming towards between 170º and 175ºF to get a whole bird and 165º to get a turkey breast. When using the temperature, ensure that the thermometer doesn’t touch any bone, as this may give an incorrect high reading leave you with undercooked (read: unsafe) meat. And, when the meat isn’t to temperature, be sure you wash the probe from the thermometer in hot, soap and water before testing the turkey again.
In the market for the meat thermometer? Our Test Kitchen recommends the top-of-the-line Thermapen Mk4 thermometer due to the accuracy and easy-to-read display. We also just like the colorful ThermoPop. Whatever you do, don’t rely on your turkey’s pop-up timer. Many times they pop too late—if they even pop at all—leading with a dry, overcooked bird.
What Size Turkey to Buy
You’ll need one pound of turkey per guest. When you can’t find the magical 12 pound turkey for 12 guests, just round up! It’s preferable to have too much food than to run short on the signature dish of Thanksgiving.
If you’re serving a hungry bunch or you really need to eat leftover turkey for the rest from the week, you are able to round up to one as well as a quarter pounds of turkey per person. These are our top solutions to eat leftover turkey.
What Temperature to Cook a Turkey
Our Test Kitchen recommends roasting a turkey in a steady 325º for the complete cook time. This temperature is low enough you don’t apprehensive about moisture evaporating quickly and drying out the turkey, yet it’s also sufficiently warm in order to smoke the bird all through in a quick pace. Before the big event, make sure you check if your oven is in working order.
How Long to Cook a Turkey per Pound
The general rule is 15-20 minutes per pound of turkey when cooking an unstuffed turkey. Since roasting a stuffed turkey is not considered food-safe (let alone doing this dries out the turkey meat) you ought to follow this process and bake one of them crowd-pleasing stuffing recipes in a separate dish.
Tips for Cooking a Turkey
Great—you know your roasting time. But prior to deciding to nail down your Thanksgiving idea, don’t forget to aspect in other time-consuming steps.
- Defrost. Thawing a turkey may take between less than six days. So if you’ve obtained a frozen turkey, make sure it can be put into the refrigerator with plenty of time for it to thaw.
- Preheat the Oven. Set aside 15 to 20 minutes to allow your oven to thoroughly preheat. Since many home ovens heat unevenly, it’s a wise decision permit your oven come up to temperature, then wait a couple of more minutes before placing the turkey inside. This allows the temperature to evenly disperse within the oven when you open the entranceway. It is also smart to rotate your turkey at least every hour to aid everything cook evenly.
- Rest. Finally, let the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes when you carve it. Resting lets the meat cool slightly and reabsorb juices that were bubbling towards the surface within the hot oven. This reabsorption is the thing that will give you plump, tender meat. If you carve the turkey without delay, you lose all of that tenderness inside a puddle on the cutting board or plate!
How do I get crispy, brown skin on my turkey?
The trick to crisp, golden brown skin starts before the turkey even goes inside oven. Plus, you currently have this secret ingredient with your pantry! The day before Thanksgiving, remove the bird looking at the packaging and get the giblets. Then, massage kosher salt everywhere in the turkey. Return the bird towards the fridge until it’s willing to roast around the big day. This technique not only seasons the meat, it also helps to draw in out excess moisture in the skin that, once baked, is going to be nice and crispy.
Should I baste my turkey?
No—and all of it is related to temperature. Basting requires one to open the oven door, which lets heat out and cools the outer lining of one’s bird. Every time you baste, you’re increasing the overall cooking time of your respective turkey. And more time within the oven brings about dry, tough meat. Learn more about the way to season a turkey.
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