Turkey weight
lb
oz
Additional options
Cavity
Unstuffed
How done you want your turkey cooked?
Normal
How long should cooking take?
Normal
Cooking time
hrs
min

If you have ever organized a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you will probably have wondered "How long does it take to cook a turkey?" Well, our turkey cooking time calculator has all the answer for you! You'll not only find out the exact cooking time your turkey needs (e.g., the 20 lb turkey cook time or an unstuffed/stuffed turkey cooking time), but also a few tips and tricks on how to cook a turkey in general. Read on if you want to know all about turkey cooking time and temperatures.

How to use turkey cooking time calculator? - How long to cook a turkey?

Our calculator is a simple tool, yet it gives you a wide range of cooking options. We can find the turkey cook time for every dish you can imagine! Just follow these steps:

  1. In the first field, input the weight of your turkey. You can freely switch between units, so choose the one most suitable to you. For example, if you want to know how long to cook 15 lb turkey, then enter 15 lb. If you haven't bought your bird yet, check the perfect weight of turkey calculator and input the amount of people you want to feed.
  2. Move to the 'Additional options' section. In the first row, choose the stuffing of your turkey - if it is fully stuffed, unstuffed, partially stuffed or stuffed with fruit. Fruits make the meat extra moist which changes the turkey cook time.
  3. Choose how would you like your turkey to be cook - well done or just normal?
  4. Choose the desired cooking speed. You should avoid 'Fast' if you can, but if you're in a hurry it might be the only option. 😉
  5. We will calculate the turkey cooking time automatically, and you can also switch between minutes, hours, and a combination of the two.
  6. Below the calculator, we'll give you a short comment on your result and cooking options. Pay attention to the basting frequency, as forgetting about it may spoil your dish! We've also provided you with some temperature suggestions.

Example - how long to cook 20 lb turkey?: 20 lb stuffed turkey cook time

Let's put our new knowledge into practice. Imagine you've got a 20 lb turkey to prepare for a Thanksgiving dinner. How will you make sure it is going to be as mouth-watering as the picture?

perfectly cooked turkey dinner

First, if your turkey is frozen, make sure to defrost it properly. Luckily, we have a calculator covering how to thaw & defrost meat thoroughly. It helps you to estimate the time of thawing, which for a turkey this size won't be quick!

(Spoiler - according to the calculator, the proper thawing of a 20 lb turkey takes five days)

While you're waiting for your turkey to defrost you can figure out what type of stuffing you want and how much of it you want to use. 👨🏻‍🍳

When the bird is ready to cook, it's time to put our calculator to work! Fill in the weight field with the weight of your turkey, i.e., twenty lb if you want to know how long to cook 20 lb turkey.

The calculator will automatically display the cooking time based on the default settings - 4 hours and 47 minutes. But wait, you haven't prepared this bread cube stuffing for nothing! Select the option 'Stuffed' - the stuffed turkey cooking time is longer than an unstuffed one. Then, let's say you want your turkey to be normally done and - since you've planned everything well in advanced- you can opt for the slow cooking speed, which will give you the most tender meat.

Ta-dah! Your result is ready. The whole cooking process will take you 7 hours and 56 minutes - we're sure the dish is worth it! Remember to baste the bird heavily every two hours.

And if you're still not convinced that you should cook a whole turkey, you can always throw a pizza party instead.

Tips and tricks on how to cook a turkey like a pro

Now that you know how long does it take to cook a turkey, let's have a look at some handy advice on how to cook a turkey:

  1. Season! Poultry meat itself is pretty bland, but it's a great carrier of tastes. A teaspoon (or a even tablespoon) of the right spice can make magic happen. If you have access to the fresh thyme or rosemary, stuff them into the turkey cavity together with garlic and a quartered onion.

  2. Basting a turkey regularly can help keep the meat from drying out, but you should also rub butter under the skin of the turkey before you begin cooking it. Add some salt, pepper, garlic, and any herbs of your choice to the butter for some additional flavor.

  3. For the wings, use the technique called exotically akimbo. If you leave the wings be, they're going to be the most burnt part of the turkey since they are sticking out. What we propose is to tuck them underneath the turkey's back. This manoeuvre will also make for more even cooking.

perfectly cooked turkey dinner
  1. As you might have noticed, turkey cooking requires preparation. Another thing worth remembering is to preheat your oven for at least 20 minutes before cooking and to get your bird out of the fridge 30 minutes before beginning. This will ensure the meat is the same temperature all the way through, allowing for it to cook evenly.

  2. Make sure to serve a well-chilled drink or a good tea to accompany your meal.

  3. When the turkey cooking time is done, it doesn't mean that you can eat it right away. Cover it loosely with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute and gives you tender meat, as well as making carving much easier.

Turkey cooking time and temperatures - and safety!

Although we mainly cook our turkeys for taste reasons, we do it also to avoid unwanted health complications - just like with all meats. How is that we can relish beef tartar, but not a turkey one?

It's all about germs. Chicken meat, turkey meat and other poultry are sometimes carriers of bacteria, like Campylobacter or Salmonella. That's why you should never wash raw meat in your sink - to prevent spreading bacteria to the other food items and kitchen utensils. On the other hand, beef is the safest raw meat to eat. Still, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that you avoid it if you're at a higher risk of food poisoning - if you're pregnant, a child, an older person or a person with a weakened immune system.

To avoid food poisoning, make sure that your meat is properly cooked. This turkey cooking time calculator can help you feel confident in your meat. However, if you happen to have an oven-proof food thermometer, you can make yourself absolutely certain. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends that the internal temperature should be at least 165 °F (74 ºC) - checked in the innermost part of the thigh, wing and the thickest part of the breast. Reaching this temperature will help you feast on your turkey with no concerns.

You now know how long to cook a turkey for. If you're interested in cooking, you can also check out our ham cooking calculator which will help you make a delicious ham on your own.

Aleksandra Zając, MD