Turkey Cooking Chart

A turkey cooking chart is convenient to have on hand when preparing a turkey. Many things need to be taken into consideration when cooking a turkey. Of course the length of cooking time will depend on the size of a bird which you are preparing and the temperature which you set your oven on. Although most recipes will instruct you to what temperature to use, typically one is roasted at 325F degrees. Other consideration must be given to whether the turkey is thawed or frozen and it is already stuffed.

Below are some turkey cooking charts to help you achieve better results when cooking your bird. You will notice one for fresh or thawed turkeys, one for roasting in oven bags and one for roasting turkeys which are still frozen. Notice also that some specify if the turkey is stuffed or unstuffed.

Additional information must be giving about the turkey cooking chart for cooking frozen turkey. If you think there is a chance that you might have to cook a turkey while still in the frozen stage, it is best to purchase a fresh one and remove the giblets; then rewrap turkey and giblets separately and freeze. Most frozen turkeys have the giblets packed inside the cavity so it must be thawed in order to remove the giblets before roasting. By removing the giblets and then freezing the turkey can go straight from the freezer to the oven.

Buttering the Breast Under the Skin Helps to Keep it More MoistButtering the Breast Under the Skin Helps to Keep it More Moist


4 to 6 pounds (breast)

6 to 8 pounds

8 to 12 pounds

12 to 16 pounds

16 to 20 pounds

20 to 24 pounds

24 to 28 pounds

Unstuffed 1 ½ to 2 ¼ Hours

Unstuffed 2 ¼ to 3 ¼ Hours…Stuffed 3 to 3½ Hours

Unstuffed 3 to 4 Hours………Stuffed 3½ to 4½ Hours

Unstuffed 3½ to 4½ Hours……..Stuffed 4½ to 5½ Hours

Unstuffed 4 to 5 Hours………Stuffed 5½ to 6½ Hours

Unstuffed 4½ to 5½ Hours……..Stuffed 6½ to 7 Hours

Unstuffed 5 to 6½ Hours……….Stuffed 7 to 8½ Hours


8 to 12 pounds

12 to 16 pounds

16 to 20 pounds

20 to 24 pounds

Unstuffed 1¼ to 2¼ Hours…Stuffed 2¼ to 2¾ Hours

Unstuffed 2¼ to 2¾ Hours……Stuffed 2¾ to 3¼ Hours

Unstuffed 2¼ to 3¼ Hours…Stuffed 3¼ to 3¾ Hours

Unstuffed 3¼ to 3¾ Hours……Stuffed 3¾ to 4¼ Hours


12 to 16 pounds

16 to 20 pounds

20 to 24 pounds

Half breast


7 ½ to 8 ½ Hours

8 to 9 ½ Hours

9 to 10 Hours

4 ¼ to 6 ¼ Hours

2 to 3 ¼ Hours

The following chart shows how long it will take to thaw a turkey before referring to the turkey cooking chart for time and temperature to roast. Simply place the turkey in its original wrap on a tray or in a pan to catch moisture that accumulates as it thaws. Frozen unstuffed turkeys can be cooked without thawing, but turkeys stuffed before freezing must NOT be thawed before cooking. It is not recommended thawing a turkey on the countertop because it will thaw from outside in; bacteria is promoted by the temperature of the room.

Thawing time in the refrigerator for whole turkey

8 to 12 pounds

12 to 16 pounds

16 to 20 pounds

20 to 24 pounds

1 to 2 days

2 to 3 days

3 to 4 days

4 to 5 days

If it is the day before you plan to serve your turkey and you forgot to remove it from the freezer, don’t despair. Check the wrapping to make sure there are no tears. Place the bird in its unopened bag in the sink or large container and cover it with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to assure effective thawing. Other thawing turkey tips say that they can be thawed in the microwave. Microwave oven varies in what they can accommodate so check the manufacturer’s instruction.

Thawing time in cold water bath for whole turkey

8 TO 12 pounds

12 to 16 pounds

16 to 20 pounds

20 to 24 pounds

4 to 6 hours

6 to 9 hours

9 to 11 hours

11 to 12 hours

Other thawing turkey tips say that they can be thawed in the microwave. Microwave oven varies in what they can accommodate so check the manufacturer’s instruction.


I have used this tip to roast an unstuffed turkey; it makes a very moist and delicious turkey.

  1. Grease the turkey well with plenty of softened butter.
  2. Make a jacket to cover the turkey with flour and water.
  3. For a large bird use about 4 cups of flour; mix enough water in to make a stiff paste.
  4. Lay turkey breast side up and wings tucked under; pat paste about ¾ inch thick all over bird.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 325F degrees about six hours until jacket is baked on hard.
  6. Remove from oven and INCREASE TEMPERATURE TO 400F degrees.
  7. Remove the hard jacket (or crust); return to oven to brown the turkey at higher temperature.

The jacket has sealed in all the natural juices making it very moist.


Cranberry Orange Roasted TurkeyCranberry Orange Roasted Turkey

Instead of using the regular turkey cooking chart, when roasting in an oven bag, use that chart or directions given on the package. The timing is a little different requiring less time to cook.

NOTE: Due to threat of so much SALMONELLA POISON IN TURKEYS, this year I roasted my turkey extra long. After my meat thermometer reached 180F degrees, I turned the oven off leaving the turkey in until I finished side dishes (About 20 minutes). As you will see in the picture the wings fell off but the turkey was very tender and delicious.

  • Turkey roasting oven bag
  • 1 Turkey (Mine was 23 pounds; use fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 3 Cups cranberry juice
  • 3 cups orange juice
  • 1 Cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Finely chopped green onions

Remove giblets from turkey; rinse and drain.

Place turkey in one an oven bag or large container.

NOTE: The package of oven bags had 2 bags. I used 1 bag for marinating and 1 for roasting but you can save 1 bag and marinate in a large container.

Combine and mix orange juice, cranberry juice, oil and onion.

Pour mixture over turkey; inside and outside.

Place turkey on the back (Cover if using container); refrigerate 5 hours.

Turn turkey over placing with breast side down; refrigerate 8-10 hours.

NOTE: I time turning the turkey over to when I plan to go to bed. Early in the morning I place it in the oven.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F degrees.

Prepare bag by dusting inside with 1 tablespoon flour.

Drain all marinade from the turkey; place in floured turkey oven bag.

Cut 6 slits (1/2 inch each) in bag on top of turkey.

Place in oven and roast according to directions for roasting in bag.

Pouring the Marinade over the Turkey in the BagPouring the Marinade over the Turkey in the Bag


This recipe gives all cooking instructions so you will not need to use the turkey cooking chart. Both the turkey and the turkey dressing are well seasoned with sage; my favorite seasoning for Thanksgiving or anytime I cook a turkey.

  • 2 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Turkey (about 12 pounds)
  • 8 to 10 Fresh sage leaves
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • 1 Teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
  • Sage recipe for lemon Parmesan dressing (Recipe below)
  • 2 Cups dry white wine

Beat butter until creamy gradually beating in lemon juice; set aside.
Rinse turkey thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels; reserve giblets and neck for dressing.
Carefully loosen skin of turkey at neck area working down to breast and thigh area.
Rub 2/3 of butter mixture under the skin; place sage leaves between skin and meat.
Rub inside of neck and cavity with lemon halves.
Sprinkle cavities with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Lightly stuff turkey dressing recipe into body and neck cavities; tie legs together with string.
Lift wing tips up and over back and tuck under turkey.
Coat bird with remaining butter mixture; sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.
Pour wine into large roasting pan; place turkey on a rack in pan.
Insert thermometer in meaty portion of thigh making sure it doesn’t touch the bone.
Bake uncovered at 325F degrees for 4 hours or until thermometer registers 180F degrees.


Follow the above instructions for cooking this stuffed turkey instead of referring to the turkey cooking chart.

  • 2 Medium coarsely chopped onions
  • ¼ Cup melted butter
  • Turkey giblets chopped
  • 1 ½ Cups dry white wine
  • 2 Lemons peeled seeded and diced
  • 6 Cups stale bread cubes
  • 2/3 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ Cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon cracked pepper

Cook onion in butter in large skillet over medium high heat stirring until tender.
Add chopped giblets and wine; bring to a boil, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
Add lemon and cook uncovered 2 minutes.
Place bread cubes in a large bowl; pour giblet mixture over bread.
Add Parmesan cheese, parsley, sage, salt and pepper; mix well and stuff turkey.


Use a turkey cooking chart when there are no instructions in the recipe.

  • 1 Turkey (About 14 pounds)
  • ½ Cup fresh rosemary sprigs
  • ½ Cup fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Cooking apple (Cut in quarters
  • 1 Stalk celery (Cut in half)
  • 1 Onion (Cut in half)
  • ½ Cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

Remove giblets and neck from the turkey (Reserve for other use).

Rinse turkey with fresh water and pat dry.

Carefully loosen skin from turkey breast without totally detaching skin.

Place rosemary and sage under the skin replacing the skin.

Place apple, celery and onion in the neck cavity of the turkey.

Place breast side up on rack in the roaster; brush whole turkey with melted butter.

Cover turkey loosely with heavy duty foil.

Bake 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours until inner thigh temperature reaches 180F degrees.

NOTE: Begin checking after 3 hours to prevent over cooking.

Let turkey stand 15 minutes before serving.