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How Long To Cook A 20 Lb Stuffed Turkey

How Long To Cook A 20 Lb Stuffed Turkey

We understand how difficult it may be to master the art of roasting a perfectly juicy bird, especially when you probably only roast a turkey a couple of times a year. The process gets even more complex when you add stuff to the equation. So, if you’re wondering how long to cook a stuffed turkey or if roasting a stuffed turkey gets you nervous, we’re here to help.

This article provides all the basics of cooking stuffed turkey recipes, with extra notes on appropriate timing and tips to get you through the process successfully.

How Long To Cook A 20 Lb Stuffed Turkey

Turkey Nutrition Facts

How Long To Cook A 20 Lb Stuffed Turkey

Tips for Cooking Turkey

Follow these tips for the best results with turkey recipes:

The ideal amount of turkey to buy – Depending on how much you love leftovers, 1 to 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person is a good rule of thumb. 1 pound per person is all you’ll need if you’re not making turkey soup or sandwiches. If you look forward to the leftovers almost as much as the main course, 1 ½ pound per person is the way to go.

Thawing a frozen turkey – Keep in mind that thawing a whole turkey can take several days, and specified cooking hours are usually for a fully defrosted bird. Typically, every 5 pounds of turkey requires 24 hours of thawing time after being placed in the refrigerator, but if it’s Thanksgiving morning and your turkey is still frozen solid, don’t panic; you have options!

Simply follow one of these procedures to thaw your turkey safely:

  • Thawing slowly in the refrigerator: For every 5 pounds of turkey, allow around 24 hours. It takes around 3 days for a 15-pound bird to defrost completely.
  • Medium thawing in cold water: Allow 30 minutes for every pound of turkey to defrost. It will take 7 ½ to 8 hours for a 15-pound bird to defrost completely.
  • Thawing fast in a microwave oven: Instructions for thawing a frozen turkey can be found in the user handbook for your oven. Models will have different times and power settings. Depending on the size of the turkey, it could take an hour or more to defrost on the defrost option.

How to tell when your turkey is done – The meat’s temperature, not the skin color, is the sole genuine indicator of doneness. The turkey is done when the internal temperature of the thigh meat reaches 165 degrees F. (75 degrees C). Make sure your thermometer isn’t touching the bone to get an accurate reading.

How to prevent the turkey from drying out –  Plan for carry-over the turkey is resting to prevent it from drying out: Once removed from the oven, the turkey’s internal temperature will keep rising by about 5 to 10 degrees. When the thigh meat registers 155 degrees F (68 degrees C), remove the turkey from the oven and leave the rest to carry over the turkey’s temperature after 10 minutes of resting to ensure it has reached 165 degrees F.


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Cooking Procedure for Stuffed Turkey

You can cook a stuffed turkey using these five easy steps:

  • Remove the giblets from the bird’s cavity and set them aside to use in gravy or stuffing. After that, pat the bird dry both inside and out using paper towels.
  • Brush the skin of the drumsticks with melted butter or oil and tie them together with twine.
  • Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan in a 350°F (175°C) oven and cook according to the cooking times listed above, based on the weight of your bird.
  • Roast until the skin is a light golden color, then loosely cover the breast with a foil tent to keep it from browning more. Remove the foil tent during the last 45 minutes of roasting to brown the skin. Basting isn’t required, although it does aid in even browning.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and set it aside to rest for 30 minutes before carving. This allows the meat’s juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making carving easier.

The cooking time for a stuffed turkey is typically longer than for an unstuffed bird. At 350 degrees F, it is advised to roast a stuffed turkey for 15 minutes per pound. It’s critical to verify the stuffing temperature; when you push the thermometer into the center of the stuffing, it should read 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).

Cooking Time for a 20 Pound Turkey

Follow the guidelines in the table below to properly time your turkey during the cooking process:

Turkey type (20 pounds) Cooking time
Stuffed turkey 4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hours
Unstuffed Turkey 4 ½ to 5 hours
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Thanksgiving Turkey (16 Servings)

  • Author: Bobby



For the herb butter:


  1. If the turkey is frozen, allow 24 hours in the fridge for every 5 pounds of turkey to thaw.
  2. 1 hour before roasting, take the thawed turkey out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature.
  3. Make sure the turkey is in the center of the oven by adjusting the oven rack. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  4. Combine butter at room temperature, salt, minced garlic, pepper, one tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary, one tablespoon fresh chopped thyme, and half a tablespoon fresh chopped sage to make the herb butter. (The remaining fresh herbs will be used to stuff the cavity of the turkey.)
  5. Remove the turkey from its packaging and the neck and giblets from the bird’s cavity. (You can save them for gravy or throw them out.) Using paper towels, pat the turkey completely dry.
  6. Season the turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with the onion, quartered lemon, apple, and any other leftover herbs.
  7. Lift the skin above the breasts (on the top of the turkey) with your fingertips and massage a few tablespoons of the herb butter below.
  8. Set the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan, tucking the wings underneath the bird.
  9. Microwave the remaining herb butter mixture for 30 seconds (it doesn’t have to be totally melted; it just needs to be very softened). Brush the leftover herb butter all over the outside of the turkey, legs, and wings with a basting brush.
  10. Roast at 325°F for 13-15 minutes per pound, or until an internal temperature of 165°F is reached when a thermometer is put in the middle of the thigh and breast.
  11. Check the turkey halfway through cooking and cover the top with tinfoil to preserve the breast meat from overcooking once the skin has turned golden brown. Alternatively, you might start cooking the turkey with it tented in foil, then remove the foil for the last hour or two of cooking to allow the turkey to brown.
  12. Allow 20-30 minutes for the turkey to rest before carving.
  13. To prepare turkey gravy, you can save any drippings and juice in your roasting pan.


For more recipe ideas on how to cook a 20-pound turkey, you’ll be needing this video recipe.