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Your Foolproof Guide To Mastering The Perfect Turkey Cook Time
Food & Drink

Your Foolproof Guide To Mastering The Perfect Turkey Cook Time

Whether you're a seasoned pro or a newbie to hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas, knowing how long to cook a turkey is crucial for putting on a delicious holiday feast. In the traditional Thanksgiving or holiday dinner spread, a turkey acts as the centerpiece and often the dish that all the other dishes complement.


When it comes to cooking the perfect mouthwatering bird, the size of your turkey plays a big role in determining how long it should be in the oven. Think of this as your cheat sheet for how long to cook a turkey. So, grab your apron, and let's break down the ideal cooking time for the perfect turkey for your holiday meal!

How Long To Cook Turkey

First things first, defrost your turkey.

​And how long do you defrost a turkey? Well, standard practice is to defrost a turkey for 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. So, a turkey that is 4 pounds would be defrosted for 24 hours; a turkey that is 8 pounds would be defrosted for 48 hours, and so on and so forth. A 12-16 pound turkey can take 3-4 days to thaw in the fridge.

The safest way is to defrost your turkey in the fridge. Place your bird in a large tray or on a plate to catch any drips, and keep it covered to prevent any cross-contamination.

If you're short on time, you can use the cold water method to unthaw your turkey safely. Submerge the turkey in a large container with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and allow 30 minutes of thawing for every pound of turkey.

Cooking the Perfect Turkey

Cooking a turkey at 325 degrees Fahrenheit is a great choice for a delicious and evenly cooked bird. As a rough guideline, you can estimate about 15 minutes of cooking time per pound of turkey.

However, it's super important to use a meat thermometer to ensure it's fully cooked. The internal temperature of the thickest part of the turkey (typically the thigh) should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep reading to learn more about ideal cook times for different pounds. The oven temperatures are based on Fahrenheit.

How long to cook an 8 pound turkey in the oven?

Cook a turkey that is 8 pounds for 2¾ to 3 hours at 325 degrees.

How long to cook a 10 pound turkey?

For a turkey that is 10 pounds, you can cook it in the oven for 2¾ to 3 hours at 325 degrees.

How long to cook a 13 pound turkey? 

Cook a 13-pound turkey for 2¼ to 2½ hours in the oven at 425 degrees.

How long to cook a 15 pound turkey?

For a 15-pound turkey, cook it for 3 to 3¼ hours at 425 degrees.

How long to cook a 20 pound turkey?

For a turkey that is 20 pounds, cook it for 4 to 4½ hours at 325 degrees.

How long to cook a 22 pound turkey?

The cook time for a 22-pound turkey is around 4¼ to 4¾ hours at 350 degrees.

How long to cook a 24 pound turkey in the oven?

​A 24-pound turkey can be cooked in around 5 to 5¼ hours at 350 degrees.

Let the Turkey Rest

Also, don't forget to allow your turkey to rest for about 15-20 minutes after taking it out of the oven. This helps the juices redistribute for a juicy, tender turkey.

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Featured image by Drazen Zigic/Getty Images

 

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