Food Safety Information
United States Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Turkey Basics: Safe Cooking
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to 4 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food
safety messages are available 24 hours a day.
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Reviewed September 2011
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education purposes. However, USDA symbols or logos may not be used separately to
imply endorsement of a commercial product or service.
A food thermometer should be
used to ensure a safe minimum
internal temperature of 165 °F
has been reached to destroy
bacteria and prevent foodborne
Many variables can affect the
roasting time of a whole turkey:
• A partially frozen turkey
requires longer cooking.
• A stuffed turkey takes longer
• The oven may heat food
• Temperature of the oven
may be inaccurate.
• Dark roasting pans cook
faster than shiny metals.
• The depth and size of the pan
can reduce heat circulation to
all areas of the turkey.
• The use of a foil tent for the
entire time can slow cooking.
• Use of the roasting pan’s lid
• An oven cooking bag can
accelerate cooking time.
• The rack position can have an
affect on even cooking and
• A turkey or its pan may be too
large for the oven, thus
blocking heat circulation.
1. Set the oven temperature no
lower than 325 °F. Preheating is
responses via the
Internet 24 hours
a day and a live
2. Be sure the turkey is
completely thawed. Times are
based on fresh or thawed birds at
a refrigerator temperature of 40 °F
3. Place turkey breast-side up
on a at wire rack in a shallow
roasting pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches
• Tuck wing tips back under
shoulders of bird (called
• Add one-half cup water to the
bottom of the pan.
• In the beginning, a tent of
aluminum foil may be placed
loosely over the breast of the
turkey for the rst 1 to 1 1/2
hours, then removed for brown-
ing. Or, a tent of foil may be
placed over the turkey after the
turkey has reached the desired
golden brown color.
4. For optimum safety, cook
stufng in a casserole. If stufng
your turkey, mix ingredients just
before stufng it; stuff loosely.
Additional time is required for the
turkey and stufng to reach a safe
minimum internal temperature (see
5. For safety and doneness,
the internal temperature
should be checked with a food
The temperature of the turkey and
the center of the stufng must reach
a safe minimum internal temperature
of 165 °F. Check the temperature in
the innermost part of the thigh and
wing and the thickest part of the
6. Let the bird stand 20 minutes
before removing stufng and
APPROXIMATE COOKING TIMES
(325 °F oven temperature)
UNSTUFFED (time in hours)
4 to 6 lb breast........ ..1 1/2 to 2 1/4
6 to 8 lb breast....... ...2 1/4 to 3 1/4
8 to 12 lbs.......................2 3/4 to 3
12 to 14 lbs......................3 to 3 3/4
14 to 18 lbs................3 3/4 to 4 1/4
18 to 20 lbs................4 1/4 to 4 1/2
20 to 24 lbs......................4 1/2 to 5
STUFFED (time in hours)
8 to 12 lbs.......................3 to 3 1/2
12 to 14 lbs......................3 1/2 to 4
14 to 18 lbs......................4 to 4 1/4
18 to 20 lbs................4 1/4 to 4 3/4
20 to 24 lbs................4 3/4 to 5 1/4
More Ways to Cook a Turkey
For other cooking methods, read the
publication “Turkey: Alternate Routes
to the Table” at www.fsis.usda.gov/