Turkey Roasting Time, Temperature and Cooking Method Guide

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Turkey Roasting Time, Temperature, and Cooking Method Guide. Take the guesswork out of preparing the perfect turkey by choosing the right cooking method and temperature for your version of the perfect turkey.
Since so many folks are intimidated by the prospect of cooking a turkey, we went to the experts for the lowdown.

Sherrie Rosenblatt of the National Turkey Federation says the Open Pan dry heat method of roasting a turkey is the easiest and most reliable way to insure turkey success. This method results in a juicy, tender, flavorful golden brown turkey.

The National Turkey Federation also offers these safety recommendations:

1. Do not roast the turkey in a oven temperature lower than 325° F. Poultry should be roasted at 325° F. or higher to avoid potential food safety problems.

2. Do not roast the turkey in a brown paper grocery bag. Present day grocery bags may be made of recycled materials and are not considered safe for food preparation.

3. Do use a meat thermometer (available at most grocery stores and kitchen shops) to determine the correct degree of doneness. Turkey is done when meat in the thigh reaches 180°F or (meat in the breast in finished at 170°F).

That said, here is an approximate turkey roasting timetable.

Unstuffed Turkey Stuffed Turkey
8 to 12 pounds -- 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds -- 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds -- 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds -- 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds -- 4 1/2 to 5 hours
8 to 12 pounds -- 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds -- 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds -- 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds -- 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds -- 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours


Heat Method Oven Temperature Appearance Flavor Results Suitable For Stuffing?
Oven Pan
Conventional Oven
Dry Heat Method 325° F. results in minimum bird shrinkage and oven clean-up. Golden brown color; crisp skin; juicy Full roasted flavor; pan drippings are most concentrated to produce a great gravy; tender Yes
Wrapped in foil, high temperature Moist heat method with turkey encased in foil 450° F. May have bare bones on drumsticks; split skin; uneven browning; foil must be opened to produce a golden brown color May have a stewed or steamed flavor; a dry texture is possible No
Oven cooking bag Moist heat method with turkey enclosed in a cooking bag 350° F. May have bare bones on drumsticks; split skin; uneven color and browning; skin may be torn if it sticks to the bag May have a stewed or steamed flavor; a dry texture is possible Yes
Covered charcoal grill Dry heat method Try to maintain temperature between 325-350° F. Varies with outside temperature, humidity and briquettes; extra briquettes must be added each hour. Red-brown skin color; crisp skin; the charcoal combustion may result in a rosy band of meat just under the skin and slightly pink meat. Mild to moderate smoky flavor; tender No

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