How Long It Takes To Cook A Thawed, 20-Pound Turkey To Perfection

Thanksgiving turkey
Thanksgiving turkey - Kajakiki/Getty Images

When it comes time to plan your Thanksgiving Day turkey, don't get caught in a turkey fiasco; make sure you know exactly how long you can expect to cook your bird. After all, it may take much longer than you think, especially if you're cooking a 20-pound turkey. A thawed, 20-pound turkey will need to be in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit somewhere from four hours and 15 minutes, to four hours and 30 minutes to be fully and safely cooked. Be sure to factor in things such as if you continuously open the oven door to baste your bird, or if your oven typically takes longer to cook things as these could result in your cooking time being even longer.

As a general rule of thumb for cooking any size turkey, the internal temperature of the breast meat should reach a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the USDA. Dark meat is safe to eat at 165 degrees Fahrenheit but generally tastes better at 175 degrees Fahrenheit after the connective tissue has broken down and more tender meat has been produced. Using a meat thermometer can take the guessing game out of cooking turkey and is highly recommended to cook the perfect turkey.

Plan your meal time to give yourself enough time to cook and carve your bird. If you are planning for an afternoon meal, you might need to start cooking the turkey as early as 9 a.m.

Read more: 12 Different Ways To Cook Chicken

Cooking A 20-Pound Stuffed Turkey

Turkey cooking in oven
Turkey cooking in oven - noraismail/Shutterstock

If you're a Thanksgiving traditionalist, you may choose to cook your stuffing inside your turkey. Whether or not you do this controversial cooking method is up to you. While this may give you more flavor, it will also impact cooking times for your turkey. You'll still roast your bird at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, but you'll have to increase its time in the oven. An unstuffed bird usually needs 15 to 20 minutes per pound, but a stuffed bird will have to cook for 20 to 25 minutes per pound. That may not seem significant but it can quickly add up.

A stuffed turkey can take anywhere in the range of 4 hours and 15 minutes to 5 hours. Be cautious when cooking a stuffed turkey, not only does your meat have to reach a safe temperature, but your stuffing needs to as well. Stuffing cooked inside a turkey needs to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, per the USDA. This is the same temperature your turkey needs to reach, so that makes remembering this detail easier. You can use a food thermometer to ensure your stuffing reaches the proper temperature.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.