How Long Do You Cook a 20 Pound Turkey


For a 20 pound turkey, you’ll want to cook it for about 10 hours at 325 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the thigh, breast and wing. When the innermost part of the thigh registers 175 degrees F and the breast is at 160 degrees F and wings are at 170 degrees F, your turkey will be done!

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

The first step in cooking a 20-pound turkey is to preheat your oven to 325 degrees. This will allow you to cook the turkey at a lower temperature, which will help it stay moist and flavorful.

Next, set your timer for 3 hours per pound. If you want a moister bird (and who wouldn’t?), go with 4 hours per pound instead!

Lay the turkey on a roasting pan or baking tray.

  • Lay the turkey on a roasting pan or baking tray.
  • Make sure that it is not too small, as this will make your turkey cook unevenly and cause it to burn in places while remaining raw in others.
  • Make sure that it isn’t too deep, or else your bird may not cook all the way through before its internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius).

Truss up the turkey, if desired.


If you have the time, trussing up your turkey will help to keep it together and prevent it from drying out. Trussing also helps keep the legs together, which means they’ll cook more evenly. The skin on a trussed bird will be less likely to dry out as well.

Trussing is easy: just tie up each leg with string or twine, then tuck its wings under its body (like so). Remember that when you’re done cooking, though, you’ll want to remove all those pesky ties before serving–they can get stuck in your teeth!

Tuck wings under the turkey.

Tuck the wings under the turkey. This will help keep them from burning, and also make it easier to baste. If you don’t want to tuck them, you can tie them up with string so they stay out of your way while cooking.

Season with salt and pepper.

Season the turkey with salt and pepper. If you don’t want to use salt, you can use a dry rub instead. You can also brine it in advance so that it will be more flavorful when cooked. If you want to try something different, try using kosher salt on your turkey instead of regular table salt; this has been shown to give better results in tests conducted by Cook’s Illustrated magazine (

Stuff the cavity with aromatics, such as onion and carrot chunks, celery tops, garlic cloves and herbs like rosemary or thyme if desired.

If you’re stuffing the bird, make sure to use aromatics that complement it. Onion and carrot chunks, celery tops, garlic cloves and herbs like rosemary or thyme are all good options. If you don’t want to stuff your turkey but still want it flavorful on the outside, season well with salt and pepper before roasting.

Finally–and this is important–don’t overstuff! You should be able to easily insert an oven-safe thermometer into its thigh without having to push too hard (or else there won’t be room for heat inside). If this isn’t possible due to stuffing being crammed into every nook and cranny of your chicken’s insides (which would be gross), then take out some stuffing from inside its cavity until things are more manageable again.

Brush or rub the skin with butter or olive oil if desired.

  • If you want to, you can brush or rub the turkey’s skin with melted butter or olive oil.
  • Don’t overdo it! It’s okay to use a small amount of butter or oil on your turkey, but don’t slather it on like gravy (and certainly don’t add salt). That will just make your bird taste greasy and salty.

If you want to cook your 20 pound turkey thoroughly without drying it out, estimate 3 hours per pound of bird at 325 degrees F

So, how long do you cook a 20 pound turkey? If you want to cook your bird thoroughly without drying it out, estimate 3 hours per pound of bird at 325 degrees F.

If you want to use a convection oven (which will make your 20 pound turkey cook faster), turn on its fan and heat up the oven to 350 degrees F. Then lower the temperature by 25 degrees every 15 minutes until it reaches 325 degrees F–that should take about 30 minutes total.

If you use a roasting pan instead of baking tray when roasting your turkey in an oven (because some people don’t have proper baking trays), this may cause extra shrinkage so plan accordingly: add 5-10 minutes per pound more than usual if using this type of equipment; otherwise follow our guidelines above!


Now that you know how long to cook a 20 pound turkey, you can enjoy your holiday meal without worrying about it being dry or overcooked. If you’re planning on making this delicious dish but need some help with other aspects of your meal like sides or desserts, check out our other articles here on!

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