Cooking the perfect turkey can be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to the kitchen or want to impress their guests during the holidays. To ensure you have a delicious and juicy turkey every time, it’s important to know how long to cook it for. Factors such as the size of your turkey and if it’s stuffed or not can affect the cooking time. In this article, we’ll guide you through how long to cook your turkey perfectly every time, with tips and tricks to make the process simple and stress-free.
Choosing the Right Turkey Size
Cooking turkey can be a daunting task, especially when you’re unsure of how much turkey you should buy for your gathering. Choosing the right turkey size is essential for ensuring that your bird cooks evenly and thoroughly. Here are some tips to help you select the perfect-sized turkey for your feast:
Calculate Your Serving Size
Consider the number of guests you’ll be serving and how much turkey they’ll eat. Typically, it’s recommended that you purchase one pound of turkey per person. However, if you want leftovers, it’s best to err on the side of caution and buy a larger bird.
Take Your Cooking Method into Account
How you cook your turkey can also affect the size of bird you should purchase. If you’re deep-frying your turkey, for example, you’ll need a smaller bird to avoid spills and accidents. On the other hand, if you’re roasting your turkey, you can opt for a larger bird that will cook evenly in the oven.
- If you’re deep-frying your turkey, opt for a turkey that weighs between 8-10 pounds
- If you’re roasting your turkey, opt for a turkey that weighs between 12-14 pounds
Choosing the right turkey size can be a challenging task, but by taking into account the number of guests you’ll be serving and your preferred cooking method, you’ll be able to select the perfect-sized bird every time.
Preparing Your Turkey for Cooking
Before you can start cooking your turkey, you need to properly prepare it. Here are some secrets to ensure your turkey is perfectly cooked every time:
Thawing Your Turkey
If your turkey is frozen, it is important to thaw it before cooking. The best way to do this is to place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. For example, if you have a 16-pound turkey, it should be thawed in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. If you’re running short on time, you can also thaw the turkey in a sink filled with cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. This can take a few hours depending on the size of your turkey.
Cleaning Your Turkey
Once your turkey is thawed, it’s time to clean it. Remove the giblets and neck from inside the turkey and rinse it with cold water. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
Seasoning Your Turkey
You can now season your turkey according to your preferences. This can be as simple as adding salt and pepper or as complex as using a variety of herbs and spices. Don’t forget to add butter or oil to the top of the turkey to help it brown evenly.
Trussing Your Turkey
Trussing your turkey means tying it up with kitchen twine to help it cook evenly. Start by tying the legs together and then bring the wings back behind the turkey and tie them together with the twine.
Letting Your Turkey Rest
After your turkey is done cooking, it is important to let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes before carving it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more flavorful and moist.
What Temperature Should You Cook Your Turkey?
Cooking a perfect turkey requires not only the right timing but also the ideal internal temperature. The general rule of thumb is that the turkey should be cooked until its internal temperature reaches 165Â°F, which is enough to kill any bacteria and ensure that the meat is safe to consume.
Factors That Affect Cooking Time and Temperature
The size of your turkey, the type of oven you have, and whether or not you stuff the turkey are all factors that can affect the cooking temperature and time. A stuffed turkey, for example, will take longer to cook than an unstuffed turkey of the same weight. The key is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature throughout the cooking process to ensure that the turkey is cooked safely and correctly.
The Different Cooking Temperatures and Times
There are different ways to cook a turkey, each requiring a specific temperature and length of time. Here are some of the common methods and their corresponding cooking temperatures and times:
- Roasting: This is the most popular way to cook a turkey, and it involves cooking the bird in an oven. The ideal temperature is 325Â°F, and the turkey should be cooked for 15 minutes for every pound of weight.
- Grilling: Grilling a turkey can give it a smoky flavor and crispy skin. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, around 350-375Â°F, and cook the turkey for 10-12 minutes per pound.
- Smoking: Smoking a turkey can take longer than other cooking methods but can give the bird a delicious, smoky flavor. The ideal temperature is 225Â°F, and the turkey should be cooked for around 30-40 minutes per pound.
Cooking Times for Different Turkey Sizes
One of the most common questions asked during Thanksgiving and other holidays is how long to cook turkey. The answer to this question varies depending on the size of your turkey. Here’s a guide to help you know how long to cook your turkey based on its weight.
Cooking a 10-18 lb. Turkey
If your turkey weighs between 10-18 pounds, it will typically take about 3-3.5 hours to cook at 350Â°F. Be sure to check the temperature of the turkey at the thickest part of the breast and thigh with a meat thermometer. The turkey needs to reach at least 165Â°F to be safe to eat.
Cooking a 18-22 lb. Turkey
If you have a larger turkey weighing between 18-22 pounds, it will take longer to cook. Plan on the turkey needing about 3.5-4 hours at 350Â°F. Again, be sure to check the temperature of the turkey to ensure it’s fully cooked and safe to eat.
Cooking a 22-24 lb. Turkey
For a really large turkey weighing between 22-24 pounds, it will take around 4-4.5 hours to cook at 350Â°F. Don’t forget to check the temperature to make sure it’s fully cooked.
Cooking a 24-30 lb. Turkey
Cooking a turkey this large requires some planning. Plan for it to take around 4.5-5 hours to cook at 350Â°F. Be sure to check the temperature of the turkey to ensure that it’s cooked through.
How to Know When Your Turkey is Done
Cooking a turkey perfectly can be a daunting task for many, as undercooked turkey can result in serious consequences. However, overcooked turkey can be dry, tasteless and unappetizing. Proper cooking time and technique are necessary to cook turkey to perfection, every single time. In this article, we’ll show you how to ensure your turkey is cooked right through.
1. Use a Meat Thermometer
One of the easiest and most effective ways to determine when your turkey is done is by using a meat thermometer. Measure the temperature at the thickest part of the turkey, and it should read at least 165Â°F (75Â°C). This ensures that the turkey is thoroughly cooked and safe for consumption.
2. Check the Juices
Pierce the turkey with a fork, and if the juices run clear, that is a good indication that the turkey is cooked through. If the juices remain pink or red, the turkey needs more cooking time.
3. Wiggle the Leg
If the legs wiggle easily or come away from the body, the turkey is likely to be fully cooked. If there is resistance or stiffness, continue cooking until the legs move freely.
4. Observe the Color
Another way to determine when your turkey is done is to check the color of the meat. Cooked turkey should have a nice golden brown color. If the turkey appears pale or raw, it’s a sign that it needs more cooking time.
5. Wait for the Pop-Up Timer
Many turkeys come with built-in pop-up timers, which will pop up once the turkey is cooked through. However, this is not always a reliable method, and it’s still important to use a meat thermometer to verify that the turkey is thoroughly cooked.
Letting Your Turkey Rest
After spending hours cooking your turkey, it’s tempting to carve it right away. However, it’s important to let your turkey rest before serving. This step is often overlooked, but it’s essential for a juicy and flavorful turkey.
The Science Behind Letting Your Turkey Rest
When you cook a turkey, the juices in the meat move towards the outside. If you slice the turkey too soon, the juices will flow out onto the cutting board instead of staying inside the meat. This can cause your turkey to be dry and tough. When you let the turkey rest, the juices move back into the meat, resulting in a moist and tender bird.
- Resting allows the turkey to reabsorb its juices, resulting in a more flavorful bird.
- Resting also allows the temperature of the turkey to even out, so you don’t end up with a cold slice and a hot slice.
Thanks for Reading! Come Back for More Cooking Tips
We hope you found this article helpful on how to cook the perfect turkey every time. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, following these simple steps will lead you to a juicy and delicious turkey that your family will love. Remember to keep in mind the size of your turkey and how long it needs to cook based on weight, and use a meat thermometer to ensure it’s fully cooked. With the right preparation, your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner will be a success.
How Long to Cook Turkey Perfectly Every Time
Learn how to cook the perfect turkey every time with this easy guide and tips. Follow our step-by-step instructions to roast a juicy and delicious turkey for your holiday dinner.
- 1 turkey (12-15 pounds)
- 1/2 cup butter (softened)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
- Preheat your oven to 325Â°F. Remove the giblets and neck from inside the turkey and rinse with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Tuck the wings behind the turkey and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
- Mix the softened butter with salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, and sage in a small bowl. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and inside the cavity. Place any remaining herbs and butter inside the turkey. Pour 2 cups of chicken or turkey broth into the roasting pan.
- Place the turkey in the roasting pan on the rack. Cover loosely with foil and place in the oven. Roast for 12-15 minutes per pound of turkey. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the remaining chicken or turkey broth, until the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes to allow the skin to brown and crisp.
- Using a meat thermometer, check the temperature of the turkey in the thickest part of the thigh. It should register 165Â°F. If the turkey isn’t fully cooked, continue roasting for additional 15 minutes and check the temperature again.
- Once the temperature is reached, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. This allows the juices to distribute throughout the meat. After resting, carve the turkey and serve with your favorite sides.