Every Thanksgiving, whether you’re cooking your first turkey or you’ve cooked 70 of them, making the perfect turkey recipe can be a beast to tackle. There are a lot of sides recipes to juggle, oven times to consider, calculations to make for how much turkey to buy per person ― and oh, you might want to take a shower and eat lunch at some point?
Once you have a meat thermometer, your secret weapon is learning the weight of your turkey. One you know that, you can calculate roughly how long to cook it ― whether you’re roasting, grilling or deep-frying. We’ve taken stuffing into account (if you choose to stuff your bird), and even given some consideration to those who forgot it was Thanksgiving and need to cook a frozen turkey (we know you’re out there.)
And if you’re cooking a heritage or pasture-raised turkey, keep in mind that it’ll take a little longer because of the different body composition of the bird!
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The best way to know when your turkey is done is by its temperature. The USDA says a turkey is safe when "cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast."
Don't Trust The Pop-Up Timer
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If your turkey has a "pop-up" temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165°F for safety.
How Long To Cook A Turkey -- Basic Roasting
This table from the USDA is based on a 325°F oven, and a fully defrosted or fresh bird. (For an unstuffed bird, we're talking roughly 15 minutes per pound.)
If you want to cook a frozen turkey, it will take at least 50 percent longer than the recommended times.
How Long To Cook A Turkey -- Convection Oven
Your turkey will cook faster in a 325°F convection oven.
8lbs: 1.25 hours
12 lbs: 1.75 hours
14 lbs: 2 hours
18 lbs: 3 hours
20 lbs: 4 hours
24 lbs: 4.25 hours
How Long To Cook A Turkey -- On The Grill
Timing on a grilled turkey is tricky since every grill is vastly different, but here's a rough guide based on weight.
8 lbs: 90 mins
12 lbs: 135 mins
14 lbs: 180 mins
18 lbs: 210 mins
20 lbs: 225 mins
How Long To Cook A Turkey: Deep Frying
According to theperfectturkey.com: "A deep fried turkey takes about 3 to 5 minutes per pound when cooked in 350 degree F oil."
Let Your Turkey Rest!
See how the turkey is shoved off to the side, getting ignored? Do this. For at least 30 minutes. The juices need time to re-absorb into the meat -- which will make it taste way better and also make carving the bird much easier.
Seriously, you can reheat it later or pour hot gravy over it. Let. It. Rest.