How Long Do You Cook a 12 Pound Turkey

Introduction

Whether you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time or just trying out a new recipe, one of the most important aspects of meal prep is knowing how long to cook each item. This can be especially tricky when it comes to turkey, since there are so many factors at play (such as size and internal temperature). However, with a little know-how and some patience, you’ll be able to make sure your oven-roasted bird turns out perfectly every time!

Cook time is dependent on the size of your turkey and its internal temperature.

The cooking time is dependent on the size of your turkey, but it’s also important to take into account the internal temperature. A 12-pound bird should be cooked until its breast meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit and thighs reach 170 F.

To check the internal temperature:

  • Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or thigh (not touching bone).
  • Remove from oven when done and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

The best way to determine the internal temperature of your turkey is to use an instant-read thermometer.

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The best way to determine the internal temperature of your turkey is to use an instant-read thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh, making sure not to touch bone or cooking tray, and leave it there for about 30 seconds. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, you can estimate when your turkey is done by checking its color: white meat should be light pink; dark meat should be brownish red with no traces of pinkness around areas where fat has melted away from bones (for example on breasts).

If using a stuffed turkey or other large piece of meat that isn’t all uniform in size throughout (like a leg), use these guides as general rules:

  • Smaller turkeys (8 pounds or less) take 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium sized turkeys (9 pounds – 12 pounds) take 3 1/2 hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Large sized turkeys (>12 pounds) take 4 1/2 hours at 325 degrees Fahrenheit

You want to cook your turkey until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast meat and 170 F inside the thighs.

You want to cook your turkey until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast meat and 170 F inside the thighs. Don’t cook it too long, or it will be dry and tough.

While it’s possible to bake your turkey until it reaches 165 F, this will result in dry, tough meat.

While it’s possible to bake your turkey until it reaches 165 F, this will result in dry, tough meat.

The best way to cook a turkey is at a lower temperature for longer–around 300 degrees F for about three hours–and then raise the heat for another hour or so before removing from the oven. This gives you tender meat without drying out the bird’s breast or legs too much (which can happen if you cook at higher temperatures).

You can also roast your turkey at a lower temperature for longer, but this will take longer and be more difficult than cooking it at 350 F or higher.

If you’re cooking a smaller turkey and don’t want to risk over-cooking it, you can also roast your turkey at a lower temperature for longer. This will take more time and be more difficult than cooking it at 350 F or higher, but the results will be worth it.

You’ll want to use an instant-read thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of your meat while roasting. When it reaches 165 F in the breast meat and 170 F inside the thighs, remove from heat and let rest for 20 minutes before carving (this allows juices to redistribute).

If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, you can use a meat thermometer as well. Just insert it into the thickest part of the thigh about 2 inches below where the leg connects to the body of the bird.

  • Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, about 2 inches below where the leg connects to the body of the turkey. Do not insert it into breast meat or any other part of a turkey that isn’t as thick as its thighs and legs.
  • Make sure that you don’t accidentally stick your meat thermometer into an area where there are bones or joints (like a drumstick). If you do this, you might get an inaccurate reading because bone conducts heat differently than muscle does–and could give you results that are too high or too low depending on how deep down in there your tip went!

Cooking times are different for each size turkey so make sure you check with a recipe if in doubt!

For a 12-pound turkey, the cooking time should be about 7 hours. This is a good rule of thumb for any turkey you’re planning on cooking.

If you’re not sure how long to cook your turkey and want to be more precise about it, then these are some things that will help:

  • Check with your recipe! Most recipes will tell you exactly how long they take to cook so just follow their instructions instead of trying to guess yourself! If this doesn’t work out for whatever reason (maybe there isn’t enough info), then…
  • Use an internal thermometer! The best way to know if something is done is by taking its temperature with an internal thermometer like this one from [link]. You can check both breast meat and thigh meat at different times during cooking so as long as both reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit/74 degrees Celsius before serving time rolls around then everything should be fine!

Conclusion

Now that you know how long to cook a turkey, it’s time to get cooking! Remember, the best way to ensure that your turkey comes out perfectly every time is by using an instant-read thermometer. And don’t forget about those side dishes–we have plenty of recipes here at Epicurious that will make your holiday meal a success!

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