The information that follows includes general guidelines for roasting a turkey. If you are using a turkey recipe from one of our Thanksgiving menus, follow the specific techniques described in the recipe.
What Size Turkey to Buy
To ensure ample servings for Thanksgiving dinner as well as generous leftovers, allow for 1 to 1 1/4 lb. of turkey per person.
What Size Pan to Use
For best results, roast your turkey on a wire rack in an open roasting pan. Because of the turkey's weight, a sturdy pan with good handles is recommended. If you use a foil roasting pan, double it for extra strength and take special care when transferring it into and out of the oven.
|Turkey Weight||Minimum Pan Size|
|Up to 12 lb.||14" x 10" x 2 3/4" high (small)
|Up to 16 lb.||15 3/4" x 12" x 3" high (medium)
|Up to 20 lb.||16" x 13" x 3" high (large)
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Do not leave the turkey at room temperature longer than 1 hour.
Roasting an Unstuffed Turkey
The times listed below are calculated for an unstuffed turkey brought to room temperature and roasted at 400°F, breast side down, for the first 45 minutes, then turned breast side up and roasted at 325°F until done.
|Turkey Weight||Approximate Roasting Time|
|10 to 12 lb.||2 1/2 to 3 hours|
|12 to 14 lb.||2 3/4 to 3 1/4 hours|
|14 to 16 lb.||3 to 3 3/4 hours|
|16 to 18 lb.||3 1/4 to 4 hours|
|18 to 20 lb.||3 1/2 to 4 1/4 hours|
|20+ lb.||3 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours
Roasting a Stuffed Turkey
Stuff the turkey just before putting it in the oven (do not stuff it earlier). Spoon the dressing loosely into the body and neck cavities. Do not overfill, as the dressing will expand during roasting. Truss the turkey (see related tip at left).
To facilitate removing the stuffing, first line the inside of the cavity with a double layer of cheesecloth, allowing it to extend beyond the cavity by a few inches. Then spoon the stuffing inside. After roasting the bird, gently pull the overhanging cheesecloth and the stuffing will slip out easily, neatly tucked inside the cheesecloth.
To ensure that a stuffed turkey cooks evenly, roast the bird slowly, breast side up, at 325°F, covering the breast loosely with foil for the first two-thirds of the roasting time. Using the chart above, add about 30 minutes to the total cooking time for stuffed birds weighing 16 lb. or less, and about 1 hour for birds weighing more than 16 lb.
1. After taking the turkey out of the oven, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows time for some of the juices to be absorbed back into the meat, which makes it easier to carve and more moist.
2. If roasting a stuffed bird, remove all of the stuffing at serving time.
3. After dinner, remove any remaining meat from the bones and refrigerate the leftovers.