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A Comprehensive Guide to Turkey Roasting Temperatures & Times

Thanksgiving Turkey

Roasting a turkey can be daunting for anyone. Though you may have done it many times before, it is always wise to check the charts one more time before doing it this year. By the time you are ready to read this you have already brined the turkey and are ready to put it in the oven. So here are the steps you need to take next:

Have the oven preheated to 325F. Make sure you have an accurate reading of the turkey poundage before it has been stuffed. Plan to roast the turkey for 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey, or 20 minutes per pound for a turkey under 16 pounds. This is for an oven that has nothing else in it but the turkey. If you have anything else in the oven you may need to plan to cook the turkey for a little longer.

Before you decide if the turkey is done, check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. It should reach 170 degrees in the thickest part of the breast. The thigh should reach 180 – 185 degrees. Once the turkey has been remove from the oven, tent it with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before transferring it to a cutting board to be carved.

Time for Roasting a Stuffed Turkey:

6- to 8-pound turkey – roast for 3 to 3.5 hours
8- to 12-pound turkey – roast for 3.5 to 4.5 hours
12- to 16-pound turkey – roast for 4.5 to 5.5 hours
16- to 20-pound turkey – roast for 5.5 to 6 hours
20- to 24-pound turkey – roast for 6 to 6.5 hours

Times for Roasting an Unstuffed Turkey

6- to 8-pound turkey – roast for 2.5 to 3 hours
8- to 12-pound turkey – roast for 3 to 4 hours
12- to 16-pound turkey – roast for 4 to 5 hours
16- to 20-pound turkey – roast for 5 to 5.5 hours
20- to 24-pound turkey – roast for 5.5 to 6 hours

For more guidelines on roasting a turkey read the USDA Consumer Guide to Roasting Turkey

Photo: Julie VR

What if the turkey still doesn’t turn out as planned? Read our tips for how to repair Thanksgiving dinner

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