Turkey Cooking Time Chart and Instructions

Turkey cooking time depends on the weight of your bird, the turkey cooking temperature of your oven and whether it is unstuffed or stuffed. The bird can weigh as little as 4 pounds or it might be as big a 30 pounds; naturally the smaller turkey will take much less time to cook. If you are cooking a turkey that is stuffed it is important to cook it long enough to make sure the stuffing is also thoroughly cooked.

Turkey Roasting in the OvenTurkey Cooking Time

Turkey cooking time will vary if the turkey is frozen or thawed. Today most turkeys are purchased in the frozen state. These can go straight in the oven if the giblets have not been frozen inside the turkey; frozen turkeys require much longer time to cook than a fresh one or one that has been thawed.

Place the turkey breast side up in a shallow roasting pan; add no water. You can brush it with oil or melted butter but it is not necessary. Cook uncovered in a roasting pan basting occasionally with pan dripping or melted butter if desired. If you see the bird browning too much in the late stage of roasting, cover the turkey with a tent of loose foil.

The most accurate way to determine the turkey cooking time is by using a meat thermometer. The thermometer should be inserted in the thickest part of the thigh muscle; make sure bulb does not touch the bone. When the thermometer registers 185F degrees the turkey is done.

Timetable for roasting fresh or thawed turkey or parts

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

Turkey in a Bag in the OvenTurkey in a Bag in the Oven

When cooking Thanksgiving turkey, many people like to use an oven cooking bag. It does help to produce a moist tender bird. In this case, shake a tablespoon of flour in the bag and make 6 half inch slits in it to let steam escape. The turkey cooking temperature using an oven bag is set at 350 degrees and the chart below reflects this temperature.


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

OVEN ROASTED TURKEY RECIPE with a turkey brine recipe makes a delicious Thanksgiving recipe or for any holiday. Easy instructions are below including the turkey cooking time.

  • 1 Whole small thawed turkey
  • 2 Cups warm water
  • ½ Cup coarse salt
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons thyme
  • 3 Teaspoons liquid smoke seasoning
  • 1 Minced onion
  • 2 Chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 Dark beer

Remove giblets from turkey; rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry.
Combine remaining ingredients in a container large enough to cover turkey with liquid.
Add water and blend mixture; place turkey in liquid making sure liquid covers turkey.
Cover container and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
Remove turkey from brine and pat dry; place on a rack in a large roasting pan.
Pour 1 cup of brine and ½ cup water in the roasting pan; discard remaining brine.
Bake 45 minutes then check liquid.
Add more water if needed in pan to prevent pan from cooking dry.
Roast turkey 45 minutes longer; REDUCE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 375F degrees.
Continue to cook until meat thermometer in thigh, eat registers 180F degrees.
Cover with foil if turkey gets too brown.


Proper turkey cooking time is in the instructions below.

  • 18 Pound turkey (Giblets, wing tips and neck can be boiled to make turkey stock)
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Large onions (Thinly sliced onions)
  • 2 Large carrots (Thinly sliced)
  • 2 Large celery ribs (Thinly sliced)
  • 4 Cloves garlic (Thinly sliced)
  • 2 Large shallots (Thinly sliced)
  • 12 Large fresh sage leaves
  • 12 Large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 5 Tablespoons softened butter
  • Turkey or chicken stock
  • ½ Cup dry white wine
  • Cooked giblets
  • Sage and thyme sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Season cavity with salt and pepper; fill with HALF of the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and shallots.

Add to the cavity the sage leaves, 12 thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

Tie the legs together with string wrapping around the tail to close the cavity.

Rub all over the turkey with 2 tablespoons of the butter; season with salt and pepper.

Spread remaining vegetables in a large roasting pan; set turkey on top.

Add 1 cup of the stock to the pan; roast for 1 ½ hours basting generously.

Baste with 1 more cup of stock after 1 hour; add ½ cup of stock to the pan.

Cover the breast lightly with foil; REDUCE TEMPERATURE to 325F degrees.

Roast for 1 ½ hours longer or until inner thigh temperature reaches 165F degrees.

NOTE: Baste often; if turkey is not nicely browned remove the foil last 30 minutes.

Turn oven off and let turkey set in oven without opening the door.

NOTE: Inner thigh temp should reach 180F degrees.

Transfer to a large platter and cover loosely with foil.

TO MAKE GRAVY strain juices into a medium sauce pan; reserve the vegetables.

Add 3 cups of stock and bring to a simmer.

In a large nonreactive saucepan melt 3 tablespoons of butter; add the reserved vegetables.

Stir in the flour; cook over moderate heat stirring frequently about 5 minutes until thick and brown.

Stir in the wine stirring frequently until very thick again; stir the hot mixture into the gravy.

Simmer over low for 10 minutes stirring often; strain into a medium saucepan.

NOTE: You should have about 4 cups; if it is too thick add more stock.

Finely chop the reserved cooked giblets into the gravy; stir and cook 5 minutes.

Discard the string and vegetables from the turkey; garnish with sage and thyme sprigs.

Serve with gravy.