Despite all of our best attempts, no one we know has ever cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner stress-free. We understand why. There are a lot of sides to juggle, oven times to consider, figuring out how long to cook a turkey per pound -- and oh, you might want to take a shower and eat lunch at some point?
Along with a meat thermometer, knowing the weight of your turkey will be your secret weapon. Once you know how much your turkey weighs, you'll know roughly how long to cook it -- whether you're roasting, grilling or deep-frying. We've taken into account the stuffing (if you choose to stuff your bird), and even given some consideration to those who forgot it was Thanksgiving and need to cook a frozen turkey (we know you're out there.)
The best way to know when your turkey is done, is by its temperature. The USDA says a turkey is safe when "cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast."
Photo via Flickr user USDAgov
Don't Trust The Pop-Up
Wikimedia: Patrick Fitzgerald
"If your turkey has a "pop-up" temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F for safety." -- USDA
How Long To Cook A Turkey -- Basic Roasting
This table from the USDA is based on 325 °F oven, and a fully defrosted or fresh bird. (For an unstuffed bird, we're talking roughly 15 minutes per pound.)
If you want to cook a frozen turkey, it will take at least 50 percent longer than the recommended times.
How Long To Cook A Turkey -- Convection Oven
Your turkey will cook faster in a 325 °F convection oven.
According to theperfectturkey.com: "A deep fried turkey takes about 3 to 5 minutes per pound when cooked in 350 degree F oil."
Let Your Turkey Rest!
See how the turkey is shoved off to the side, getting ignored? Do this. For at least 30 minutes. The juices need time to re-absorb into the meat -- which will make it taste way better and also make carving the bird much easier.
Seriously, you can reheat it later or pour hot gravy over it. Let. It. Rest.