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How Long And What Temp To Cook A Turkey

How Long and What Temp to Cook a Turkey

Hardly will you find anyone who would turn away from a nice turkey meal, especially when it’s cooked just right. Some of the factors that contribute to achieving optimal results with turkey-based recipes are cooking at the right temperature and for the right amount of time.

If you have no idea how long to cook your turkey or what temperature to cook it for the best results, this article will answer all your questions. Make sure to follow all our cooking instructions and helpful tips to achieve desirable results.

How Long And What Temp To Cook A Turkey

Turkey Nutrition Facts

How Long And What Temp To Cook A Turkey

Tips for Cooking a Turkey

Take note of the following tips:

Flavoring ideas – For a fuller flavor and browner skin, massage minced herbs or crushed spices into the turkey’s skin (or beneath it), and stuff the cavity with garlic cloves or a few halved lemons.

Ideal temperature – Your turkey will benefit from an initial roasting at a very high temperature, preferably 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and this will help the turkey’s skin crisp up properly. Afterward, turn the heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook as per the recipe below.

Ideal timing – It’s best to cook your turkey for 13 minutes per pound for the best results. This will help you get the most ideal results from your recipe.

Ideal Timing and Temp for a Turkey

The timing and temperature guidelines in the table below are ideal for cooking a turkey:

Cooking procedure Cooking time
Cooking the turkey in the oven at 450 F 13 minutes per pound
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How Long And What Temp To Cook A Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (10 to 15 Servings)

  • Author: Bobby




  1. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 30 minutes to one hour before you roast it. Take off all the wrapping and the giblet bag (check the body cavity of the turkey, as well as the neck cavity).
  2. While the oven preheats, arrange the turkey with its breast-side facing up on a roasting rack, positioned in a roasting pan. This removes the chill from the meat, helping it to cook more evenly and much faster. It also helps the turkey’s skin to dry out, allowing browning and crisping to occur. Note that after the turkey has been left to rest at room temperature, it may still feel cool when you touch it. This is normal, so just continue roasting.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F and place the oven rack in the bottom third portion of the oven. Remove all the racks above this level. There’s no need to do anything at this point if you brine your turkey. Before you put your turkey in the oven, season it with salt and pepper if it’s still in the packaging. Because it’s easier and the turkey will be able to cook more uniformly, we recommend that you leave your bird unstuffed and untrussed.
  4. Pour the cooking liquid (either broth or water) into the roasting pan as soon as you’re ready to roast.
  5. Reduce the heat to 350°F and then place the turkey in the oven. Roasting turkeys with their breast-side facing up is recommended. Some folks prefer to start cooking the turkey with the breast-side down to protect the breast flesh, but flipping a hot turkey might be stressful and dangerous. Instead, if the breast meat begins to brown too much near the end of cooking, simply cover it with aluminum foil.
  6. A turkey should ideally be cooked for 13 minutes per pound. As such, a 16-pound turkey should take roughly 3½ hours to cook. Some factors, such as brining the bird, cooking the turkey without stuffing its cavity, as well as not tying the legs, will help the bird cook considerably faster. Plan on following the timing rule of 13 minutes per pound, but check your turkey’s temperature halfway through the cooking period to see how quickly it’s cooking.
  7. Take the turkey out of the oven after 45 minutes, close the oven door to make sure the heat doesn’t escape, then baste the turkey all over. To baste the turkey, tilt the pan if necessary, then scoop up liquids from the pan with a spoon or turkey baster and drizzle them over the turkey. Using the pan’s juices to baste the turkey helps to cool the surface and delays the cooking process. This will allow the breast meat to cook at a similar rate with the thighs and the legs. You can use oil or melted butter to baste the turkey around the last 45 minutes of the cooking process. Doing this will help the skin crisp up and turn a gorgeous rich golden brown color.
  8. Check the temperature of the turkey halfway through the recommended cooking time. Check your temperature in three locations: the turkey breast, outside thigh, and inner thigh.  When the turkey is done cooking, the temperature should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the turkey back into the oven for 20 extra minutes if any part of it is below that temperature. If necessary, cover the breast meat with a piece of foil to prevent it from overcooking.
  9. Take the turkey out of the oven. With an oven mitt, grab one edge of the roasting rack and tilt the entire pan so the liquids contained in the turkey’s cavity run into the pan (you’ll need these liquids to make the gravy) Then, while still on the rack, lift the entire turkey and place it on a clean chopping board. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes at least, after loosely wrapping it in aluminum foil. This will allow the meat to firm up and the liquids to re-enter it, resulting in easier slicing and a more juicy taste.
  10. Carve the turkey in the same manner you would a chicken. First, remove the wings, then the thighs, and finally the breast flesh. Once the meat has been removed, divide the thighs into quarters and drumsticks, then carve the breast meat into individual pieces.

This recipe is very detailed and as such, should be easy to follow. Make sure to cook at the right temperature and for the right amount of time in order to get the best possible results.

If you’d like more recipe ideas, make sure to check out this video recipe.