How Long Do You Cook a Turkey

Introduction

The holiday season is upon us, and you may be wondering how long it takes to cook that turkey. The answer: It depends on the size of your bird, but more importantly, it depends on how hot your oven is and what temperature you’re cooking it at.

The USDA says 15 to 20 minutes per pound is the right cooking time for a large turkey.

The USDA says 15 to 20 minutes per pound is the right cooking time for a large turkey. That means that if your turkey weighs 16 pounds, it will take about 4 hours to cook; and if your turkey weighs 20 pounds, it’ll take 5 hours.

That said, I’ve found that my oven tends to be pretty accurate when I use its built-in thermometer as a guide–and this method has always worked well for me:

  • Preheat the oven at 450 degrees F (230 C) with racks set in the middle position and lower third of oven rack (if you have one). If not using an instant-read thermometer with an alarm function or probe attachment like I did here as pictured above on page 2 below this paragraph then leave your door open while preheating so heat can escape more quickly once cooking begins which helps prevent overcooking due to trapped air inside during initial heating phase before opening doors later on after adding ingredients such as stuffing into cavity area etc…

Always set your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, so that air can circulate around the bird.

Make sure you set your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, so that air can circulate around the bird. This keeps the bottom from getting soggy and helps to ensure even cooking throughout. If you don’t have a rack, use thick slices of onion or carrot as makeshift legs to keep it off the bottom of the pan (just make sure they’re sturdy enough!).

Don’t use foil tents or roasting bags! They trap heat inside and prevent browning on top; plus they make cleanup harder since they’re difficult to remove without tearing into pieces first.

Stuffing is also allowed, but do not overstuff the turkey.

Stuffing is also allowed, but do not overstuff the turkey. Stuffing should be cooked separately, so that it doesn’t get too dry and rubbery. If you’re going to stuff your turkey with stuffing, remember that it needs time to cook as well–use this handy guide from The Kitchn:

  • Stuffing should be added at least an hour before the turkey is done roasting (or when the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • If you’re using fresh herbs in your stuffing mix them with butter or olive oil first so they don’t burn while cooking (or use dried herbs instead).

how-long-do-you-cook-a-turkey

If you have time and want to get ahead of the holiday rush, pop your turkey in the fridge for several days before Thanksgiving. This helps dry out the meat so it’s easier to slice later — no one wants to cut through juicy turkey clumps when it comes time to carve!

If you have time and want to get ahead of the holiday rush, pop your turkey in the fridge for several days before Thanksgiving. This helps dry out the meat so it’s easier to slice later — no one wants to cut through juicy turkey clumps when it comes time to carve!

It’s also important not to defrost your bird too quickly. If you do, some parts may be undercooked while others are overcooked by the time dinner rolls around on Thanksgiving Day or even Christmas Eve (if that’s when your family does its big meal).

The proper size and temperature of your oven will help you cook those perfect white meat pieces.

If you’re planning on cooking a large turkey, it’s best to use an oven that can hold the bird comfortably. A smaller, more compact oven may not heat up as quickly or evenly, which can result in unevenly cooked meat.

If your turkey is too big for your standard oven, consider roasting it in a convection oven instead. Convection ovens circulate hot air throughout the cavity and circulate hot air around the entire bird–resulting in faster cooking times!

Conclusion

If you’ve been following the steps we’ve outlined above, then congratulations! You’re now ready to cook your perfect turkey. Remember, there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to cooking time and temperature — but if you follow our tips for brining and stuffing (or don’t), then we can guarantee that your bird will be delicious.

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