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How Long to Cook a 23-Pound Turkey

Preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey is a significant undertaking. Anything that large is challenging to cook in the oven because the outside always cooks faster than the inside. If you’ve been tasked with cooking the bird for Thanksgiving or another gathering, the first question you’re likely to ask is, “How long does a turkey take to cook?”

You can start your Thanksgiving countdown by coordinating the guest list, cleaning the house, and even planning the entire Thanksgiving menu, but you can’t plan your day-of cooking strategy until you know how long to cook a turkey. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. The weight of the turkey is the key to determining how many hours it takes to cook a turkey (yes, hours).

How Long to Cook a 23-Pound Turkey

Cooking Tips

Add Some Aromatics

Under the rack of a large roasting pan, add a few halved shallots, sliced carrots, celery, and 2 cups of water. As the turkey cooks, the vegetables will perfume the meat and flavour the drippings, while the water will keep things from burning.

Cover your Turkey

Cover the bird loosely with aluminium foil, shiny side out (to deflect heat) at the start. Tenting the skin with foil prevents it from becoming too dark too quickly. Remove the foil halfway through cooking to allow the skin to brown.

Baste your Turkey

Traditional recipes demand basting the turkey every half hour to keep it moist and flavourful. Basting is a simple process that involves opening the oven and carefully spooning (or squirting) the pan juices all over the turkey. To make a richer basting solution, add butter to the roasting pan, or keep the turkey broth simmering on the stove for use if the pan juices run dry. Although basting will help the skin brown nicely, opinions differ on whether the liquid actually penetrates the skin to moisten the flesh. Alternately, you can split the difference by bringing and/or buttering the bird before cooking, then basting it every now and then—say, every hour instead of every 30 minutes—as it roasts.

Pop-up Timer

Suppose your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator. In that case, it is recommended that you also use a food thermometer to check the turkey’s internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For safety, the minimum internal temperature should be 165°F.

Allow your Turkey Rest

It is critical to allow your turkey to rest after cooking it. This should take 30 minutes at least. The juices require time to re-absorb into the meat, which improves the flavour and makes carving the bird much easier.

How Long to Cook a 23-Pound Turkey

Cooking time for a 23-Pound Turkey

The cooking time for a turkey depends on some factors. Is the turkey stuffed? What’s the temperature of the cooking medium? Cooking time for a stuffed turkey is longer than for an unstuffed turkey. At 350°F, roast a stuffed turkey for 15 minutes per pound. It is vital to check the temperature of the stuffing; it should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius) when the thermometer is inserted into the centre of the stuffing. For a 23-Pound turkey, the cooking time at 325°F is:

Unstuffed- 4½ to 5 hours

Stuffed- 4¾ to 5¼ hours