Turkey Basics: Safe Cooking of Whole TurkeyA food thermometer should always be used to ensure an internal temperature sufficient to destroy bacteria and prevent overcooking.
Some things which can affect the roasting time of a turkey:
- A dark roasting pan will cook a bit faster than a shiny pan
- The size and depth of a roasting pan could reduce heat circulation to all areas of the bird
- A foil tent might slow cooking if used over the entire roasting time
- A partially frozen turkey will take longer
- The oven's thermostat could be inaccurate
- An oven cooking or roasting bag can shorten roasting time
- A stuffed turkey will take longer to cook
- The oven might heat unevenly
- If a turkey or pan is too large for the oven, heat circulation might be blocked
Safe Roasting1. Roast at an oven temperature of at least 325° or more, never below. 2. Thaw the turkey completely in the refrigerator in it's own wrapping. Place in a rimmed tray or pan to catch any juices. It will take about 24 hours in the refrigerator (at 40°) for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey.
3. Place the turkey on a rack in a shallow roasting pan about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in depth, breast side up. Tuck the wing tips back under the back of the turkey and secure the legs with kitchen twine.
4. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
5. A tent made with aluminum foil is helpful to prevent over-browning. Tent the breast portion of the turkey with a foil tent for about an hour, removing for browning, or place the tent on the bird after the turkey has browned sufficiently.
6. If not using a meat thermometer, cook the stuffing in a separate baking dish. If stuffing the bird, stuff loosely and allow more time to reach the correct internal temperature (see below).
7. The temperature should be checked with a food thermometer. The internal temperature must reach 165° in the breast, or 175° to 180° in the thigh. If the bird is stuffed, be sure the center of the stuffing registers 165°.
8. Remove the roasted turkey from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.
Approximate Cooking Times:
- Breast, 4 to 6 pounds ....... 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours
- Breast, 6 to 8 pounds ....... 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours
- Whole, 8 to 12 pounds ....... 2 3/4 to 3 hours
- Whole, 12 to 14 pounds ...... 3 to 3 3/4 hours
- Whole, 14 to 18 pounds ...... 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
- Whole, 18 to 20 pounds ...... 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
- Whole, 20 to 24 pounds ...... 4 1/2 to 5 hours
- Whole, 8 to 12 pounds ............... 3 to 3 1/2 hours
- Whole, 12 to 14 pounds .............. 3 1/2 to 4 hours
- Whole, 14 to 18 pounds .............. 4 to 4 1/4 hours
- Whole, 18 to 20 pounds .............. 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
- Whole, 20 to 24 pounds .............. 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours