Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends and enjoy a delicious meal. However, if you’re like me, that means cooking can become stressful once the turkey hits the oven. Luckily, there are some easy ways to ensure your holiday dinner turns out perfectly every time.
Basic Turkey-Cooking Times
The following are the basic roasting times for a 12, 15, 20 and 24 pound turkey:
- 12 pounds – 2 1/2 hours
- 15 pounds – 3 hours
- 20 pounds – 4 1/4 hours
- 24 pounds – 5 hours
Cooking a whole turkey is something that most people have at least tried once or twice during their lives. The problem is, most of us don’t really know how long to cook it for. Fortunately, there are some easy rules of thumb that you can follow to produce a juicy and delicious turkey that will impress your family and friends.
A whole turkey is a large bird that has been cooked whole, with all of its meat inside it. Most people cook turkeys because they are delicious and easy to serve at dinner parties or family gatherings. However, if you don’t know how long to cook them for, then your meal may come out dry and overcooked – not exactly what we want when we’re trying to impress our guests! Luckily there are some simple rules of thumb that can help ensure success when cooking your next holiday feast.
Whole turkeys should be put in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees Celsius) until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). If you don’t have an oven thermometer handy, just use common sense: if there’s any pinkness left in your meat after this point has been reached then keep going; if all traces seem gone then pull it out immediately!
General rule of thumb:
The general rule of thumb for cooking a turkey is: The bigger the bird, the longer it takes to cook. So if you’re looking at a 12-pound turkey versus an 8-pounder, expect your larger bird to take about 20 percent longer to heat through.
The best way to tell if a turkey is done is by using a meat thermometer inserted into its thickest part (usually between the thigh and breast). When your turkey reaches 165 degrees F., remove it from heat and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving so that all those wonderful juices don’t run out when you cut into them!
Prepping your bird:
- Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of your turkey, then rinse it inside and out with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels if necessary, then season generously inside and out with salt, pepper and any other spices you like to use (I like to add some garlic powder to mine).
- Place your seasoned bird into a roasting pan fitted with a rack (this allows fat to drain away from meat). Place in oven at 350 degrees F for 1 hour per pound or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F in thickest part of thigh when tested with an instant read thermometer
How long should I brine my turkey?
Brining is a great way to add moisture and flavor to your turkey. The time you brine depends on the size of your bird, but generally speaking, you can expect an hour per pound of turkey. For example, if you have a 12-pound bird that needs to be cooked for two hours at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, then it’s best to brine overnight (or at least 8 hours).
Take these simple steps to make sure your holiday dinner is perfect
- Take these simple steps to make sure your holiday dinner is perfect:
- Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. You can test it in two spots–the thickest part of each leg and wing, as well as near the breast (but not touching bone). The internal temperature should read 165 degrees F when you remove it from the oven.
- Don’t forget about checking for doneness on top of everything else! If there’s still some pink left in your turkey’s breast after cooking for at least 20 minutes, keep going until it reaches 165 degrees F throughout (or until you get sick of waiting).
So, there you have it. The basics of how long to cook a turkey. As with most things in life, the answer is “it depends”. But if you follow these simple rules of thumb and use them as guidelines when cooking your bird this holiday season, then we guarantee that your holiday dinner will be perfect!