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Turkey Cooking Time Guide

Roast Turkey and Vegetables

Photo by Meredith

Time for some straight up turkey talk.

How long does it take to cook a turkey? It's one of the most frequently asked Thanksgiving cooking questions we get at Allrecipes, so let's get right to the answer!

The general rule for cooking a turkey is 20 minutes per pound, but that can vary depending on whether or not your turkey recipe calls for a stuffed or unstuffed bird. Use this handy chart to determine approximately how long to cook it, whether stuffed or unstuffed. Of course, the best way to know if your turkey is cooked to a safe temperature is to use a meat thermometer. (Scroll down for tips.) Insert it properly and check it often.

Turkey Meat Thermometer

Photo by Meredith

The times on this chart are based on placing the whole turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven. Your recipe may call for a different temperature and overall time, and your oven may run hotter or cooler. (That's why you NEED an oven thermometer for the best, most reliable results.)

 Weight of Bird  Roasting Time (Unstuffed)  Roasting Time (Stuffed)
10 to 18 pounds  3 to 3-1/2 hours  3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours 
18 to 22 pounds  3-1/2 to 4 hours  4-1/2 to 5 hours 
22 to 24 pounds  4 to 4-1/2 hours  5 to 5-1/2 hours 
24 to 29 pounds   4-1/2 to 5 hours 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours 

 

 

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5 Easy Tips for Roasting Turkey

  1. Cook the turkey until the skin is a light golden color, and then cover loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil tent to brown the skin.
  2. Basting will not make turkey moister, but will promote even browning of the skin. To get tender and moist turkey meat, try brining it.
  3. The only true test for doneness is the temperature of the meat, not the color of the skin.
    The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. To get an accurate reading, be sure that your thermometer is not touching the bone.
  4. If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing; it should be 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
  5. When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, and makes for easier carving.

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