Turkey is one of those plates that are usually cooked on occasions, typically on Thanksgiving, when everyone you know is present. Leaving you with no room for error. Although there are many recipes that you can try, timing is the most important factor in the cooking process. In this article, we’ll explore how long to cook turkey and the factors that affect the cooking duration.

Timing and Other Factors

To accurately calculate the timing, we should consider the following questions:

  • What is the size of the turkey?
  • Is it stuffed or not?
  • Is it already thawed?

A turkey’s internal temperature must be at least 165 F to be edible. Therefore, the oven must be set around 325 F.

Setting your oven to the right temperature is crucial. For a more accurate measure of temperature, we recommend that you use a food thermometer.

Before roasting, it’s important that you prepare your raw turkey properly. It has to be fully thawed so it cooks evenly, and more importantly, safely during its oven time.

How Long to Cook TurkeyHow Long to Cook Turkey

As a general rule, the stuffed turkey will take longer to cook. Let’s delve into more details.

Stuffed Turkey

For a stuffed turkey, the components should be prepared beforehand. You should only mix the dry and wet ingredients right before stuffing the bird. Use the thermometer to know if it’s ready. As we mentioned earlier, it should be edible when it reaches 165 F.

For stuffed turkeys, 20 minutes of cooking per pound is a general rule. Therefore, an 8-12 pounds bird will need around 3 to 3½ hours to cook. A 12 -14 pounds will need around 3½ to 4 hours to cook. A 14 – 18 pounds turkey will take around 4 to 4¼ hours and so on.

It’s crucial that you check your thermometer to know when the turkey is ready to be served. Also, check the recipe’s instructions on how long it should be cooked. This is supposed to give you an accurate answer.

Unstuffed Turkey

Unlike the stuffed turkey, this one requires 15 minutes of cooking per pound. Put the turkey on the rack of your shallow roasting pan, and set the oven to the same temperature, which is 325 F.

Let’s say that your unstuffed turkey weighs around 8 to 12 pounds, this means that it’ll need 2¾ to 3 hours to be cooked. A 12-14 pounds turkey will need 3 to 3¾ hours of cooking. For an 18-20 pounds turkey, you will need around 4¼ to 4½ hours of cooking.

Just as we did with the stuffed turkey, we recommend that you use the thermometer and the recipe’s instructions for further precision.

Read Also: How Long to Boil Potatoes?


While there are many things to consider when cooking a turkey, the question of “how long to cook?” tops them all. You must get this answer right, otherwise, you risk ruining your special Thanksgiving night.

However, it’s easy to nail it, follow the indicators that we provided above and use your thermometer, and recipe’s instructions to give your party an ideal meal!