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What Is the Oven Cooking Time for a Turkey?

Updated February 21, 2017

Turkey tantalises the taste buds at Thanksgiving, but only if cooked properly. Overcooking a turkey leaves it dry, and not roasting it in the oven long enough invites food poisoning. For moist, delicious oven-roasted turkey, adhere to these specific precooking guidelines and testing methods.

Before cooking

Choose a turkey based upon 0.454kg. of unstuffed turkey per person or 0.567kg. for a pre-stuffed frozen turkey. Refrigerate a fresh turkey until ready to cook and keep frozen turkeys in the freezer until thawing. Frozen turkeys need to be thawed in the refrigerator for 24 hours per 2.27kg. Thaw in cold water for 30 minutes per pound, changing the water every half hour. Frozen turkeys packaged with stuffing inside should be cooked from their frozen state without thawing, but fresh turkeys with stuffing should not be cooked due to an increased possibility of bacterial contamination. (See reference 1)

In the oven

Preheat the oven to 163 degrees C, and use an oven thermometer to ensure that the oven is properly calibrated. Cook the stuffing separately to prevent contamination. Place the thawed turkey on a roasting rack in a shallow baking pan with a lid large enough to accommodate both the rack and the turkey. Roast the turkey for approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound, unstuffed. An 3.63 to 5.44kg. turkey takes between 2-3/4 and 3 hours to cook; 5.44 to 6.35 Kilogram needs 3 to 3-3/4 hours; 6.35 to 8.16 Kilogram requires 3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours; 8.16 to 9.07 Kilogram should cook between 4-1/4 and 4-1/2 hours; and turkeys over 9.07 Kilogram need to roast over 4-1/2 hours. (See reference 1)

Testing for doneness

Insert a meat thermometer into both the thigh and the breast of the turkey. Aim for the deepest portion of the meat, but away from the bone. Once the temperature of the thigh is at least 73.9 degrees C and the breast is 82.2 degrees C the turkey is ready to serve. Stuffing needs to be measured with a meat thermometer, too, and its temperature should be at least 73.9 degrees C. (See resource 1)

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