The key to cooking a great turkey, no matter what method you use, is to know how long to cook your bird. As turkeys vary greatly in size and weight, the best way to plan your turkey’s cooking time is to do the math and figure your turkey cooking times per pound. It’s easy to do once you know the basics times per pound for cooking a turkey.
First Things First – How Big Is The Turkey?
The first thing you need to know to find accurate turkey cooking times per pound, of course, is how big your turkey is. Turkeys can range from small and young at around 10 or 12 pounds to large, easily reaching weights of 20 to 35 pounds or even more for a fresh turkey.
To really successfully cook a turkey, forget the vague ranges on the tag and look at the individual turkey’s weight. Most of the time it will be listed clearly on the tag, but if not, simply weigh it to find out.
How Will You Cook Your Turkey?
The only other major factor in turkey cooking times per pound is the method in which you plan to cook the turkey. Once that is decided, simply consult below and find the per-pound cooking time that matches your method, multiply by the weight of the bird and divide by 60 to get a time that converts to hours and minutes.
- Traditional Stuffed Roast Turkey. Turkey cooking times per pound for the traditional stuffed and oven-roasted turkey are 25 minutes per pound, based on the turkey’s weight, at an oven temperature of 325 to 350 Fahrenheit.
- Oven Roasted Turkey, Unstuffed. If you plan to cook the stuffing separately from the turkey, which is more often recommended now for safety reasons, the cooking time per pound is less, at 20 minutes per pound at the same oven temperature range of 325 F to 350F.
- Roasting Bag. Turkey roasting bags can cut turkey cooking times per pound significantly, even for large turkeys. If you are using a roasting bag, plan for 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey and 10 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird.
- Deep-Fried Turkey. Turkey cooking times per pound for deep-fried turkeys (such as those done out of doors) are 3 to 4 minutes per pound for a whole turkey (unstuffed, of course). Note that this is only recommended for smaller birds of 14 pounds or less, and at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
These turkey cooking time per pound are great for planning, but do know that turkeys themselves may cook a bit faster or slower, and many factors can affect the cooking time, and so it is important to use a meat thermometer to ensure your turkey is really thoroughly cooked to a safe temperature of 170 F (in the breast) to 180 F (taken in the thigh). Also plan to let your turkey rest for 20 minutes once cooked, prior to carving and serving.