Yes, this is the question du jour. I know – it’s Thanksgiving, and you’re under pressure to not wreck the bird. Relax – cooking a turkey is the same as roasting a chicken – it just takes a little longer. To make things easier, below are turkey cooking times per pound.
There are hundreds of thousands of recipes out there for roast turkey, some trussed and fancy, some plain. Before roasting, a turkey can be rubbed with herbs and spices, brined, basted with a glaze or stuffed with any number of ingredients, or you can use absolutely nothing but a little oil, salt and pepper and it will still be delicious. If you’re not stuffing your bird, throwing half a lemon, handful of fresh herbs and a few garlic cloves inside the cavity is easy and will add flavor. So. It’s ready to go – how long do you cook it?
Many recipes start with a higher initial temperature to crisp and brown the skin, and then drops to a lower temperature to cook the meat through.
The experts at Alberta Turkey Producers have this advice for a perfectly roasted turkey this holiday season:
1. Preheat oven to 325˚F (160˚C).
2. If you wish to stuff your turkey, do so lightly and just before it goes into the oven – never stuff your turkey the day or night before.
3. Place clean turkey, breast up, on a rack in a shallow pan. (Pat it dry with paper towels if you want the skin to get nice and crisp!)
4. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the inner thigh, just above, but not touching, the thigh bone.
5. Roast uncovered – or loosely covered with foil. If you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven – once an hour is sufficient. Opening the oven will alter the length of cooking time.
6. Roast until thermometer reads 170˚F (77˚C) for an unstuffed turkey or 180˚F (82˚C) for a stuffed turkey. (Once it’s cooked, the drumstick should move easily in its socket and the juices from the thigh will run clear.)
7. Once cooked, let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes, loosely covered with foil, to allow the juices to redistribute through the bird.
Approximate Roasting Times:
6 – 8 lbs (3.0 – 3.5 kg)
stuffed – 3 – 3 1/2 hours
unstuffed – 2 1/2-2 3/4 hours
8 – 10 lbs (3.5 – 4.5 kg)
stuffed – 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 hours
unstuffed – 2 3/4 – 3 hours
10 – 12 lbs (4.5 – 5.5 kg)
stuffed – 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 hours
unstuffed – 3 – 3 1/4 hours
12 – 16 lbs (5.5 – 7.0 kgs) stuffed – 3 3/4 – 4 hours
unstuffed – 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 hours
16 – 22 lbs (7.0 – 10.0 kgs)
stuffed – 4 – 4 1/2 hours
unstuffed – 3 1/2 – 4 hours