Every holiday, whether it’s your first turkey or you’ve cooked 70 of them, finding the perfect turkey recipe can be a challenge. There are numerous side dish recipes to consider, oven times to consider, calculations to make for how much turkey to buy per person, and, oh, you might want to take a shower and eat lunch at some point.
To some of us, the savoury, succulent centrepiece of Thanksgiving is turkey. Others see it as a poor vehicle for gravy, dressing, and cranberry sauce. However, if you know how to roast a turkey properly, even the white meat can be delicious. The required time to cook a turkey depends on the temperature of the oven and whether the recipe calls for a stuffed or unstuffed bird.
Thaw your Turkey
The fridge is the best place to thaw your turkey, which can take about a week, depending on the size of the bird. Here’s how long a typical turkey takes to thaw in the fridge
1–3 days for 4–12 pounds
3–4 days for 12–16 pounds
4–5 days for 16–20 pounds
5–6 days for 20–24 pounds
Air out your Turkey
When it’s time to cook your turkey, remove it from the fridge and place it on a rack leaving it at room temperature for an hour to remove the chill and dry out the skin. Your roasting rack should allow the turkey’s bottom to rest at or just below the pan’s rim.
Butter Your Turkey
Rub the turkey with room temperature salted butter—or your favourite flavoured compound butter. (You’ll need about 12 cups (1 stick) of butter for a 12- to 14-pound turkey.) Working slowly from the neck, work your fingers under the skin, being careful not to separate or tear it completely at the large cavity. The majority should be rubbed under the skin, a little inside the large cavity, and the rest over the skin.
Season if Necessary
A 12- to 14-pound bird requires 112 teaspoons each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in the large cavity and another 112 teaspoons each over the skin. There is no need to salt the cavity of kosher turkeys that have already been salted but do salt the skin.
Cooking Time for a 16-Pound Turkey
The cooking time for turkeys differs according to the size and temperature of the cooking medium (oven, grilling and deep-frying). Therefore, the different cooking times for a 16-pound turkey has been listed below according to the cooking medium:
The cooking time for a 16-pound turkey in a convection oven at 325°F is 2 hours 30 mins
The cooking time on a grill for a 16-pound turkey is about 195 mins
For deep frying, it takes about 3-5 mins per pound when cooking in 350°F oil. Therefore, for a 16-pound turkey, it’ll take about 50-80 mins.
How to Know Your Turkey is Ready
The temperature of the meat and not the colour of the skin is the only actual test for doneness. When the thigh meat in the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, it is done (75 degrees C). Make sure your thermometer does not come in contact with the bone for an accurate reading. See our guide for the proper way to check the temperature of a turkey.