Divine Dinner Party

Calculating Turkey Cooking Times

From grilling to frying, there are lots of ways to cook a turkey, and turkey cooking times will vary depending on the cooking method and the size (in weight) of your bird.
Crisp and Golden Thanksgiving Turkey Getting that turkey right is hard work. It's difficult to strike that delicate balance between golden-crisp skin and juicy meat. But if you time your meal right and calculate the correct turkey cooking times, you can avoid that cardboard-flavored bird come Thanksgiving or Christmas.

There are also a ton more resources to help with buying, thawing, roasting, and carving a turkey here at Divine Dinner Party. Just drop by our HUGE "How to Cook a Turkey" Guide for everything you ever wanted to know.


Guide to Cooking Times for Turkey

Just a note: these cooking times for turkey are only accurate for a fully thawed or fresh turkey.

Check out our guide for turkey thawing times and instructions.

Unstuffed Turkey, Fresh or Thawed, cooked at 325 degrees Fahrenheit:

Weight of Turkey Cooking time
4 - 8 pounds 1 1/2 - 3 1/4 hours
8 - 12 pounds 2 3/4 - 3 hours
12 - 14 pounds 3 - 3 3/4 hours
14 - 18 pounds 3 3/4 - 4 1/4 hours
18 - 20 pounds 4 1/4 - 4 1/2 hours
20 - 24 pounds 4 1/2 - 5 hours

Stuffed Turkey, Fresh or Thawed, cooked at 325 degrees Fahrenheit:

Weight of Turkey Cooking time
6 - 8 pounds 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours
8 - 12 pounds 3 - 3 1/2 hours
12 - 14 pounds 3 1/2 - 4 hours
14 - 18 pounds 4 - 4 1/2 hours
18 - 20 pounds 4 1/2 - 4 3/4 hours
20 - 24 pounds 4 3/4 - 5 1/4 hours

Safe Turkey Cooking Temperature Guide

Thinking about slow-cooking that turkey? Skip it. According to the USDA recommendations for food safety, a turkey should never be cooked using an oven temperature lower than 325 degrees. A lower turkey cooking temperature will take longer to heat the turkey, increasing the risk of harmful bacteria growth. Unless you have a particularly sinister plan for Thanksgiving, you probably don’t want to give food poisoning to your guests.

When is the turkey done? Using an oven thermometer placed through the thickest part of the thigh (for a whole turkey) or the breast (for a turkey breast), check to make sure that the internal temperature reads at least 165 degrees F. Do checks throughout the turkey to be sure. Once the bird reaches a minimum temperature of 165, you can go ahead and take it out of the oven.

Cooking a Frozen Turkey

The times listed above apply to fresh or thawed turkeys. But if you forgot to thaw yours (or --even worse!-- forgot to buy a turkey and had to make a last-minute dash to the store) you can cook a frozen turkey using these times as a guideline. A frozen turkey would need to cook at least a full 50% longer than the times indicated here. Also, as the frozen turkey thaws and cooks in the oven, remember to remove the packet of giblets (they'll be too stuck in there to remove when the bird is frozen).

Got turkey cooking times down pat? Check out our First Thanksgiving Dinner guide.

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Cooking a Whole Turkey
or Some Drumsticks?

Free Holiday Turkey Recipe Guide to How to Cook a Turkey

If it's a fat bird with a beard (no, I don't mean your Aunt Marjorie), we can help you cook it. Click on the icon above or click here to get started with recipes and tips on how to cook a turkey for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any time of year.

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If you're preparing your first turkey, you might need some help thawing it out or knowing what supplies you'll need.

Visit Turkey Cooking Supplies and How to Thaw a Turkey for lots of help on planning for and preparing a turkey-- for first-timers and old-hands alike.

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