perfect turkey

Cooking Times for Perfect Turkey?

Holiday cooking is here and everyone is wondering how long it takes to cook the perfect turkey?

How long you should roast the perfect turkey depends on how much it weighs, and whether you plan to stuff it. Set your oven to 325°F and follow these roasting times based on the weight of a fully thawed turkey (be sure to allow at least 24 hours of thawing for every 4 lbs of your bird):

  • 4 to 6 lb  turkey breast cooking time

1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours

  • 6 to 8 lb turkey breast cooking time

Unstuffed: 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours
Stuffed: 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours

  • 8 to 12 lb turkey cooking time

Unstuffed: 2 3/4 to 3 hours
Stuffed: 3 to 3 1/2 hours

  • 12 to 14 lb turkey cooking time

Unstuffed: 3 to 3 3/4 hours
Stuffed: 3 1/2 to 4 hours

  • 14 to 18 lb turkey cooking time

Unstuffed: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
Stuffed: 4 to 4 1/4 hours

  • 18 to 20 lb turkey cooking time

Unstuffed: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
Stuffed: 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours

  • 20 to 24 lb turkey cooking time

Unstuffed: 4 1/2 to 5 hours
Stuffed: 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

When is Turkey Done?

The time estimates above offer a general idea of how long a turkey will take to cook. However, the absolute safest way to know if your turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. If you are cooking a stuffed turkey, you must cook it until the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165°F. If you are cooking an unstuffed turkey, roast until a temperature reading of the innermost part of the thigh reaches 165°F.

How Much Turkey Will You Need?

You can estimate that each guest will need about 1 1/2 pounds of turkey. Here’s a general guide for how much turkey you’ll need per person:

  • 4 people: 6 lbs
  • 6 people: 9 lbs
  • 12 people: 18 lbs

If you are buying a smaller bird for a smaller party – 12 pounds or less – you should allow 2 pounds per person to account for the smaller meat-to-bone ratio. These guidelines apply to both fresh and frozen turkey. However, be absolutely sure to thaw your turkey entirely before cooking.