How Long Do I Cook a Turkey


Ah, Thanksgiving. The one day of the year we stop and sit down with our family (and sometimes extended family) to celebrate what’s important in life: good food and company. And while it’s true that there are a million ways to prepare a turkey—from roasting it whole at low temperatures for hours on end, to slow-cooking confit-style in its own fat—one question remains: How long do I cook my turkey?

The answer depends on several factors: how big your bird is; what type of oven you have; how much time you can devote to making dinner this year; whether or not you want much left over after dinner (because who doesn’t love leftovers?). But don’t worry! We’ve done all the research so that your next Turkey Day will go off without a hitch.

Turkey Cooking Times Are Down to the Size of Your Bird

The size of your turkey, as well as its weight, will determine how long it takes to cook. If you’re roasting an older bird or one that’s been stored for a while (as is often the case when buying directly from farms), its bones might be more brittle and thus take longer to heat through.

A smaller adult turkey will take less time than a larger juvenile bird; likewise, if you want to speed up the process by cooking at higher temperatures (say 425 degrees Fahrenheit), then plan on having your oven set anywhere between 30 minutes per pound or so depending on how hot it gets inside there!

What Size Turkey Should You Buy?


When it comes to cooking a turkey, the size of your bird is dependent on how many people you are feeding. For example, if you’re cooking for a large group of people (20 or more), buy a bigger turkey than if you were cooking for just a few people (less than 20). If your family only consists of two or three members and therefore won’t be eating much meat during the holiday season–or if they’re picky eaters who prefer their meals leaner–it’s better to choose a smaller bird.

How Long Do You Need to Cook a Whole Turkey?

Cooking a whole turkey is simple, but it can be tricky. The temperature of your oven is the most important factor in cooking times, so adjust accordingly:

  • If you’re using a convection oven, start at 325 degrees F and cook for 3 hours 15 minutes to 4 hours 15 minutes.
  • If you’re using a conventional oven, start at 350 degrees F and cook for 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours 30 minutes.

Once the bird has reached 160 degrees F in its breast meat (and 165 degrees F in its thigh meat), take it out of the oven and let it rest on a carving board before slicing into pieces or serving whole–this will allow time for any juices released during cooking to redistribute throughout the meat so that each slice comes out moist and flavorful rather than dry as dust!

How Long Do You Need to Cook Turkey Pieces?

Turkey pieces are a great option for those who want to enjoy the benefits of turkey but don’t want to cook an entire bird. Turkey pieces are less expensive than whole turkeys, and they can be cooked in a variety of ways. For example, you can roast the legs by themselves or with other meats such as chicken or beef; slice up some breast meat for sandwiches or salads; make turkey burgers from ground meat (this is especially good if you’re feeding kids); or use drumsticks in soups and stews.

If you use these recipes as inspiration, there’s no reason why your Thanksgiving meal should be anything less than delicious!

If a Turkey in the Oven Is Done, Can I Take it Out and Put It Back In Again?

You can take the turkey out of the oven and put it back in again. But don’t do it too many times. The USDA recommends that you cook your turkey until an internal temperature of 165 degrees F is reached, which will take about 30 minutes per pound for a stuffed bird (and 15 minutes less if not stuffed). So if you’re cooking a 15-pounder, you should let it rest for 45 minutes before carving. If your turkey has been out at room temperature for more than an hour after cooking and resting, however, don’t put it back in; discard any leftovers that have been sitting out too long as they may be unsafe to eat

There is no one size fits all approach for cooking a turkey.

The best way to cook a turkey is to use a meat thermometer. The best way to tell if a turkey is done is to look at the color of the meat. You can also use this method for other types of poultry and game birds, but it’s not ideal for turkeys because they have large breasts that are easy to overcook by using this method alone without any additional guidance from other measurements or tests like tenderness (or lack thereof).

The following chart will help you determine how long it takes for different sizes of turkeys in order for them all to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F:

  • Smaller than 12 pounds: 2 hours 15 minutes per pound at 350 degrees F (177 C)
  • Medium-sized birds between 12-18 pounds: 3 hours per pound at 350 degrees F (177 C)
  • Large birds weighing over 18 pounds: 4 hours per pound at 350 degrees F (177 C)


It’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all approach for cooking a turkey. The best way to ensure a delicious and juicy turkey every time is by using a meat thermometer and following these guidelines:

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