Every year I get a flood of questions at this time of year, of how to cook a turkey. This year – and this season – is no different. Here is a printable link for a PDF file of this information – Calculate Turkey Cooking Times
The simplest say to figure out turkey roasting times is to calculate 13 minutes per pound at 350°F for an unstuffed turkey (that’s about 3 hours for a 12- to 14-pound bird). Check the temperature about 3/4 of the way, and then again every 10 minutes, and roast until the temperature reads 165°F (or 150°F as the case may be) when checked at the thickest part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast.
If, however, you prefer to roast your turkey at a higher or lower temperature, follow these guidelines.
425°F for 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours
400°F for 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 hours
350°F for 2 3/4 to 3 hours – 13 min per lbs (for all weights)
325°F for 3 to 3 3/4 hours – 20 min per lbs (for all weights)
If your turkey weighs 15 to 16 pounds, roast it at:
425°F for 3 to 3 1/4 hours
400°F for 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 hours
350°F for 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours – 13 min per lbs
325°F for 3 3/4 to 4 hours – 20 min per lbs
If your turkey weighs 18 to 20 pounds, roast it at:
425°F for 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours
400°F for 3 3/4 to 4 hours
350°F for 4 to 4 1/4 hours – 13 min per lbs
325°F for 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours – 20 min per lbs
If your turkey weighs 21 to 22 pounds, roast it at:
425°F for 4 to 4 1/4 hours
400°F for 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
350°F for 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 – 13 min per lbs
325°F for 4 3/4 to 5 hours – 20 min per lbs
If your turkey weighs 24 pounds, roast it at:
425°F for 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
400°F for 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 hours
350°F for 4 3/4 to 5 hours – 13 min per lbs
325°F for 5 to 5 1/4 hours – 20 min per lbs
To kill all bacteria, a turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. As it rests, the temperature will then continue to rise to around 180°F. To check the temperature, you can use either an instant read thermometer or a remote. For juicier meat, however, some people prefer to take the bird out at 150°F so the temperature will rise only to 165°F as it rests.
Whichever turkey roasting temperature you choose, be sure to use a meat thermometer to determine it. In the past, people used to use the color of the meat as an indication of doneness: The turkey was pierced with a knife, and if the juices were clear instead of pink, it was done. But this is not a reliable method, for several reasons. First, pinkness can disappear before a safe temperature is reached. And on the flip side, some turkeys (especially organic and heritage birds) may never lose their pink color, even if they’re cooked to well above 165°F.
If you find the skin is getting too dark and the desired internal temperature hasn’t been reached, loosely tent the browned parts with a double-thick layer of buttered aluminum foil to protect them from the heat.