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Tips for Turkey Cooking Times Per Person

Updated February 21, 2017

Turkey is a centrepiece at holidays and cooking a whole turkey requires planning. The size of the turkey plays a role in both the number of people it will serve and the amount of time required to cook it. Add flair to a traditional turkey with marinades or try a deep-fried turkey this year (see Resources).

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Turkey Size

Count the number of people to attend the dinner. Allow for 0.68kg. of turkey per person. This will provide 1 pound at the meal, including any bones, and another 1/2 pound for leftovers. Should the turkey be stuffed, prepare 1 cup of stuffing per person. A frozen turkey should be kept refrigerated for 24 to 48 hours prior to cooking to thaw. One hour before cooking, bring the turkey to room temperature by placing it on a kitchen counter.

Unstuffed Turkey

Roast the turkey in the oven at 177 degrees C without stuffing for 15 minutes per pound. This will translate to a roasting time of about 22 to 23 minutes per serving of 0.68kg. An 8- to 5.44kg. turkey will feed 5 to 8 people and take 2 to 3 1/2 hours. A 12- to 7.26kg. turkey requires 3 to 4 hours; 16- to 9.07kg. birds roast for 4 to 5 hours; 20- to 11.3kg. turkeys need 5 to 6 hours, and larger turkeys should cook for more than 6 hours. Using a meat thermometer inserted into both the breast and thigh in the thickest portion of the meat is the only way to be certain that the turkey is done. The thermometer should read at least 73.9 degrees C for the breast and 82.2 degrees C for the thigh readings.

Stuffed Turkey

Stuffing is best cooked outside of the turkey in a separate baking pan and added to the bird cavity with 30 minutes left of cooking. This decreases the needed cooking time, but should the turkey want to be roasted with the stuffing in it the entire time, an extra 5 to 8 minutes per pound needs to be added. This will increase the cooking time at 177 degrees C per 1 227gr. serving by 7 to 12 minutes to 29 to 35 minutes per person. When inserting the meat thermometer into a stuffed turkey, readings should be 73.9 degrees C in the breast and the deepest portion of the stuffing and 82.2 degrees C in the thigh.

Deep Fried Turkey

Deep fried turkeys cannot be cooked with stuffing. Smaller turkeys up to 6.35kg. are best for deep frying since larger turkeys could result in a spillage of hot oil. If more than 6.35kg. is needed, additional turkeys can be fried. Deep fried, thawed turkeys should be cooked in 350 degree F oil for 3 to 4 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer reads 73.9 degrees C in the breast and 82.2 degrees C in the thigh. For each 0.68kg. serving, the turkey should deep fry for 4 to 6 minutes. An 8- to 5.44kg. turkey for 5 to 6 people only needs to cook in the oil for 32 minutes to 1 hour 12 minutes.

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