Cooking Time for a 20-lb. Turkey

Written by g.k. bayne
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Cooking Time for a 20-lb. Turkey
Turkeys stuffed with stuffing take longer to cook. (cooking turkey image by Ernest Prim from Fotolia.com)

A 9.07kg. turkey is a popular size for the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast or for large families with many mouths to feed. Roasting a turkey in an oven is the most common way to cook the bird, although turkeys can be cooked on the grill or in a special roasting appliance. The time it takes to cook a 9.07kg. turkey in the oven will depend on whether you are roasting the turkey unstuffed or have filled the cavities with stuffing.

Unstuffed Turkey

Place the turkey, breast side up, in a roasting pan. If desired, you can brush the skin with oil or butter. You can also season the turkey with poultry or other seasonings. Pour 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Cover the roasting pan with a tight fitting lid or aluminium foil. Place the turkey in a preheated 325-degree oven. Roast for approximately 4 1/2 hours, basting the turkey every hour. The turkey is fully cooked when a thermometer inserted into both the breast and the thigh reads 73.9 degrees C.

Stuffed Turkey

Stuff the turkey with the dressing immediately before cooking. Place the bird, breast side up, in the roasting pan. Oil and season the turkey, if desired. Cover the roaster with a tight fitting lid or aluminium foil and cook for 4 3/4 to 5 hours. The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the breast, thigh and the stuffing reads 73.9 degrees C.

Using a Roaster Appliance

Cook a turkey, stuffed or unstuffed, in an electric roaster for the same amount of time you would cook the turkey in the oven. Be sure to set the roaster temperature to no less than 162 degrees C and remove the cover as little as possible during the cooking time.

Cooking in a Smoker

A whole, unstuffed 9.07kg. turkey can be cooked in a smoker very easily. Plan on 30 minutes per pound, or 10 hours, and check with a thermometer to insure that the turkey is done. Because smokers cook meat slowly at lower temperatures, the USDA does not recommend smoking a stuffed turkey.

Methods Not Recommended

It is not recommended to cook a turkey of any size in a brown paper bag. Special cooking bags can be used for oven roasting. It is not recommended that turkeys larger than 7.26kg. be cooked on a charcoal or gas grill. Turkeys should be 5.44kg. or less if you plan on cooking in a deep fryer. If you plan to cook the turkey in a pressure cooker, it should be cut into parts and you should follow the pressure cooker manufacturer's instructions.

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