Turkey Cooking Time Guide

The general rule for cooking a turkey is 20 minutes per pound. But, that can vary depending if your turkey is stuffed or unstuffed. Use this chart to determine approximately how long to cook a turkey. That said, using a meat thermometer is the best way to know if your turkey is cooked. (See tips below.) Insert it properly and check it often.

Perfect Turkey

Photo by Cynthia Ross

These times 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.

 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 



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. Basting is not necessary, but will promote even browning.

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.
  • 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).
  • 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.

Related Recipe Collection and Advice:

Need to know how to cook a turkey? We have all of your Thanksgiving questions answered!