How Long to Cook a Turkey

No guessing: here’s a go-to guide for turkey roasting times for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

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141776401

Photo by: Victoria Pearson/Getty

Victoria Pearson/Getty

By Leah Brickley for Food Network Kitchen

Roasting a turkey doesn’t have to be an intimidating task if you have a good game plan. We consulted the USDA — the authority on turkey talk — and here is a handy guideline for cooking success.

Quick Turkey Tips:

  • Plan on 1 1/2 pounds of (uncooked) turkey per person.
  • Budget enough time for thawing your bird: here's our thawing guide.
  • Remember to remove the giblet packet and turkey neck (and make gravy!).
  • It's safer to cook stuffing in a separate baking dish but if in-the-bird is what you prefer, pack it in loosely — it should register at 165 F with an instant read thermometer before serving.
  • Use an instant read thermometer to check your turkey's temp: insert the probe in the deepest part of the thigh — it should register 165 F.
  • Let turkey turkey rest 20 minutes before carving.

How Long to Roast a Turkey:

These times all based on roasting a turkey at 325 F.

Unstuffed

  • 4 to 8 pounds (breast only): 1 1/2 to 3 1/4 hours
  • 8 to 12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours
  • 12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours
  • 14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
  • 18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours

Stuffed

  • 6 to 8 pounds (breast only): 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours
  • 8 to 12 pounds: 3 to 3 1/2 hours
  • 12 to 14 pounds: 3 1/2 to 4 hours
  • 14 to 18 pounds: 4 to 4 1/4 hours
  • 18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

It's safe to cook a completely frozen turkey but it will take at least 50 percent longer than a fully thawed bird. If cooking from frozen, remove the giblet packet with tongs about halfway through. Cook until the deepest part of the thigh registers 165 F with an instant read thermometer.

How Long to Cook a Turkey

How Long to Cook a Turkey

Find out how long to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving based on it's size.

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