According to the National Turkey Federation, you should allow 20 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey, and 25 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey. Since our 18-pound bird was stuffed with a 10-pound bag of potatoes and carrots, we used these times as a baseline. However, since turkeys are all different sizes, your cooking time may vary slightly.
Remove the turkey from the packaging, rinse and pat dry.
Remove the turkey from its packaging, rinse it with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure to remove any giblets or other parts that came with your turkey before cooking it.
Place the turkey breast-side down on a greased roasting pan.
Place the turkey breast-side down on a greased roasting pan. Use a roasting rack or a roasting pan with a rack to keep the drippings from burning, and make sure to oil it well before placing your bird in there. If you don’t have either of these, use aluminum foil as an alternative–it won’t burn as quickly as other materials would have!
Baste the turkey’s back with melted butter or oil.
The turkey’s back is a good place to start. The dark meat on the back will take longer than the white, so you need to make sure that area of your bird gets enough attention. If you don’t baste it with oil or butter, it can dry out while other parts are still undercooked.
The best way to do this is by using a basting brush and applying melted butter or olive oil directly onto the skin of the turkey’s backside before cooking. You can also drizzle some liquid into each cavity before filling them with stuffing (which we’ll get into later).
Roast at 325 degrees F for 2 1/2 hours per pound of bird.
The ideal temperature for cooking turkey is 325 degrees F. At this heat, the bird will cook evenly and efficiently, allowing you to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal without stressing over the details.
The next step is determining how long it will take for your turkey to reach an internal temperature of 165 F–the point at which it’s safe for consumption (and also when most people consider their bird done). To determine this length of time, multiply 2 1/2 hours by the weight of your bird in pounds: if you have an 18 lb turkey on hand, then you should expect it to take around 45 minutes per pound of meat before being ready!
When the thermometer reaches 165 F, remove the turkey from the oven; baste again with butter or olive oil and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
After the turkey has been in the oven for 2 hours, remove it from the oven and insert a thermometer into its thickest part (usually in the thigh). The temperature should read 165 F, which is also when you’ll want to remove your turkey from the oven. If it’s not there yet, put it back in for another 15 minutes or so–but no longer than that! You don’t want to overcook your bird because then all that lovely tender meat will become tough and dry.
When your turkey reaches 165 F (or whatever temp works best for your family), baste again with butter or olive oil and return to the oven for 30 minutes more. This step helps keep things moist as well as prevents any burning due to surface moisture being baked off during this time period.
Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
Once the turkey has cooked, remove it from the oven and let stand 20 to 30 minutes before carving. This allows for enough time for all of the juices to settle back into the meat. Cover loosely with foil while you wait.
18 lb turkeys take 3 hours and 15 minutes per pound in an 325 oven
18 lb turkeys take 3 hours and 15 minutes per pound in an 325 oven.
Take the turkey out when the temperature reaches 165 F, then baste it with butter or olive oil, put it back in the oven for 30 minutes and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.
A lot of people think it’s a lot of work to cook a turkey. But really, it’s not! All you need is some time and patience and your family will love this delicious meal.