Turkey Cooking Times

So, what is the cooking time for a turkey? This is a common holiday cooking question.

General Rule For Cooking A Turkey

As a guide, cook your thawed turkey 20 minutes per pound, but the actual cooking time will differ depending on whether your turkey is stuffed and the actual oven cooking temperature. 

Note:

  • For food safety reasons: It is strongly recommended that stuffing on the side and cook the turkey unstuffed.
  • Plus, you can actually cook more stuffing if you have a large enough dish and sufficient ingredients, than the inside of a turkey would have the capacity to hold.

How long to cook a turkey

  • The times on the chart below are based on the turkey being placed a preheated ( 350o F / 175o C) oven with the roasting pan on the center rack.
  • Use an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is maintaining the proper temperature, once preheated.
  • When roasting a turkey, always cook your turkey to a safe temperature (165o F / 74o C), use a meat thermometer, and check the thermometer often.

Turkey cooking times reference chart

Turkey WeightUnstuffed Roasting TimeStuffed Roasting Time
10 to 18 pounds3 to 3-1/2 hours3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours
18 to 22 pounds3-1/2 to 4 hours4-1/2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 pounds4 to 4-1/2 hours5 to 5-1/2 hours
24 to 29 pounds 4-1/2 to 5 hours5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours

Turkey Roasting Tips

  • Start with a completely thawed turkey; for food safety reasons, plan ahead and use the refrigerator to thaw the turkey.
  • Always Preheat your oven
  • Basting is optional if you want a browner and more even browning of the skin.
  • Cook the turkey uncovered until the skin is lightly golden and then cover loosely with a foil tent.
  • remove the foil tent for the last 45 minutes of baking to finish browning the skin.
  • The only safe test for turkey doneness is the temperature of the meat, and the turkey is cooked when the thigh meat has reached an internal temperature of (165o F / 74o C).  To get an accurate internal reading, be sure that your meat thermometer is not touching the bone.
  • If you stuffed the turkey, the stuffing must reach the temperature of (165o F / 74o C), which can result in a drier and slightly overcooked turkey
  • When the turkey is cooked, remove the turkey from the oven and allow the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. Resting the turkey allows the juices to redistribute throughout the turkey and makes for easier carving.

Oven Temperatures Crosswalk Reference

Oven with bread in it
Oven with bread in it

Depending on the age, origin, and type of oven you are working with the oven temperatures contained in a recipe may need to be interpreted.  So, here is a quick reference table to help crosswalk your recipe oven temperatures depending upon whether you are working with Fahrenheit, Celsius, a gas oven, or just a descriptive word.  

  Fahrenheit Celsius Gas Number
Very Slow 225o -275o 110o – 140o ¼  – 1
Slow 300o -325o 150o – 163o 2 – 3
Moderate 350o – 375o 177o – 190o 4 – 5
Moderately Hot 400o – 425o 200o – 220o 6 – 7
Hot 450 o  – 475 o 230o – 245o 8 – 9
Extremely Hot / Broiling 500o – 550o 260o – 290o 10

Related References