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Cooking a whole turkey

A lot of us eat turkey, but you will be surprised at how few people know how to cook a turkey properly. In fact, it is even more surprising when you know just how simple it is to cook one. With the information on this page, you are going to be learning how to cook the perfect turkey for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

What You Need

To follow this recipe, all you will need is:

  • An unstuffed turkey
  • A roasting tray
  • A meat thermometer

While these instructions can be used for roasting a stuffed turkey, do bear in mind that you will need to increase the cooking times that we talk about. If you are placing vegetables into the roasting tray, perhaps to make your own gravy, the cooking time is going to be exactly the same.

Defrosting the Turkey

In order to make things a little bit easier for yourself, it is important that your turkey is fully defrosted before you follow these instructions. It takes a lot longer than you may think to defrost a turkey too. It takes about 24-hours to defrost 5lbs of turkey. So, if you have a turkey of 15lbs (about the average size for a family), then expect it to take somewhere around the 3-day mark to fully defrost. This means that you will need to start preparing for Christmas and Thanksgiving a few days in advance.

If you do not have the time to defrost your turkey, then you will need to add 50% onto the times we talk about on this page!

Prepping the Oven: The oven will need to be preheated to 372F.

Cooking the Turkey

Once the oven has been preheated, you can put the turkey right in there. Of course, you will need to place it into the baking tray first. How long the turkey is in the oven will be dependent on the size. Here is a quick guide to (roughly) how long your turkey should be placed into the oven:

  • 8lbs – 2 hours, 45-minutes
  • 10lbs – 2 hours, 55-minutes
  • 12lbs – 3 hours
  • 14bs – 3 hours, 45-minutes
  • 16lbs – 4 hours
  • 18lbs – 4 hours, 15 minutes
  • 20lbs – 4 hours, 30 minutes

For every 2lbs above these temperatures, you will need to add fifteen minutes to the cooking time. If the turkey is stuffed, then you should add about 15-minutes to 30-minutes to the quoted cooking time.

Now, do bear in mind that these is only going to be a general guide to cooking times. It doesn’t mean that your turkey will be finished cooking exactly when we said. You will know that the turkey has finished cooking if you insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey and it is 165F in temperature. Test multiple locations on the turkey to ensure that it is hot enough.

Once you know your turkey is cooked, all you need to do is let it rest for fifteen minutes before you carve and serve it.