Turkey Cooking Times & Temperatures: How to Tell When It’s Done

Turkey Cook Time


It is Thanksgiving and now it’s time to cook your delicious turkey for friends and family. If you are having a small, intimate gathering and have decided to cook only a turkey breast, as opposed to the whole turkey, Food Safety states that the appropriate cooking time for a turkey breast between four and six pounds, unstuffed, will cook for anywhere between 90 minutes and 135 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. For turkey breasts between six and eight pounds, you will cook the unstuffed turkey between 135 minutes and 195 minutes. For stuffed turkey breasts between six and eight pounds, the time increases to 150 minutes to 210 minutes.

If you have decided to celebrate Thanksgiving, by cooking an entire turkey, the cooking times have increased for an unstuffed turkey between eight and twelve pounds between 2 ¾ hours and 3 hours. If you have stuffed your turkey, the times are between 3 and 3 ½ hours. For turkeys between 12 and 14 pounds, the times for an unstuffed turkey are between 3 hours and 3 ¾ hours; for stuffed turkeys, it is 3 ½ hours and 4 hours. For unstuffed turkeys between 14 and 18 pounds, the time ranges from 3 ¾ hours to 4 ¼ hours; for stuffed turkeys it is between 4 and 4 ¼ hours.

For unstuffed turkeys between 18 and 20 pounds, the time is 4 ¼ hours to 4 ½ hours; for stuffed turkeys, it is 4 ¼ hours to 4 ¾ hours. Unstuffed turkeys between 20 and 24 pounds need a range of cooking time from 4 ½ hours to 5 hours; for stuffed turkeys it is 4 ¾ hours to 5 ¼ hours.

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Please remember these times are for cooking your turkey at an oven temperature of 325 degrees. If you are deep frying your turkey, the times will range as the temperature of your oil can vary. Please be sure you have a handy thermometer to monitor your turkey’s temperature. The temperature should always be taken from the thickest part of the turkey away from any bone that may be present.

As a general reminder, you should always test your turkey with a thermometer and cook to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees.

Williams Sonoma reports that you should take your turkey out of the oven when the thermometer registers between three and four degrees below the minimum cooking time. This will help to make sure your turkey retains the maximum amount of moisture. If you have a digital thermometer and are able to preset the time, it may make your cooking experience a little easier this season. You simply set your desired temperature and wait for the alarm to sound once the turkey reaches the set temperature. Then, take it out of the oven and enjoy.

If you have decided to deep fry your turkey for the holiday, you should read the digital thermometer’s instructions to verify if it may be used in hot oil. If you have a regular thermometer you can simply check your turkey for the proper cooking temperature every so often as your turkey’s temperature will rise every few minutes.

Some may decide to put their bird in the oven while others will decide to slowly lower their bird into a hot pot of oil. Either way, please make sure you are doing everything safely, as safety comes first before any delicious bird.

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