What Temperature to Cook a Turkey – How Long? How to Take Its Temperature?

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
November 25, 2015 Updated: November 26, 2015

It’s Thanksgiving, and Turkey Time is here again. Here’s some basics on what temperature to cook a turkey and how long it takes.

For a traditional roasted turkey with stuffing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking the stuffing outside of the bird. However, if you are cooking it with the stuffing inside, you can follow these steps:

1. First, preheat the oven to 325 degree F, and check the wrapper on the turkey to see how much it weighs (if it weighs more, then it will take longer to cook uniformly). Then remove the giblet bag from the breast and remove the turkey’s neck from the cavity. Pat the turkey skin dry with paper towels (don’t wash it).

Some people roast it at 350 degrees (see times below).

Plan on 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree F oven for a defrosted turkey and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for a fresh turkey.

2. Then what you do is mix the stuffing in and lightly fill the cavity. Use 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of stuffing for a pound of turkey. It’s better to understuff than to overstuff the turkey.

3. Place the breast side of the turkey in a shallow roasting pan that’s around 2 inches deep. Insert the heat thermometer in the turkey’s thigh and add up to 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the pan if you want.

4. Then cover the turkey with a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil. The cooking time for a stuffed turkey takes longer.

5. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with olive or vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper.

6. Resist the temptation to open up the oven door to admire the turkey, as that increases the chance of the turkey getting dried out.

7. After about 1 to 1/2 hours of cooking, remove the foil cover to allow the turkey to get brown.

8. A whole turkey is done when the temperature of the innermost part of the thigh hits a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F with a food thermometer. The stuffing also has to hit 165 degrees F or higher. If not, return it back to the oven and keep on cooking it.

9. When the turkey is done, take it out of the oven and allow it to stand for 20-30 minutes before carving it.


Here’s the USDA roasting time table for a turkey at 325 degrees F:

8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours

8 to 12 pounds – 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds – 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds – 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds – 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds – 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours


Here’s how long to cook a turkey at 350 degrees:

10 to 18 pounds 3 to 3-1/2 hours not stuffed — 3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours stuffed

18 to 22 pounds — 3-1/2 to 4 hours not stuffed — 4-1/2 to 5 hours stuffed

22 to 24 pounds   4 to 4-1/2 hours not stuffed — 5 to 5-1/2 hours stuffed

24 to 29 pounds  — 4-1/2 to 5 hours not stuffed — 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours stuffed


Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.