You've properly thawed and seasoned your turkey with a flavor-boosting dry brine—now it’s ready for the oven! But the question of how long to cook a turkey remains. Before we get to that, make sure your kitchen is equipped with the right tools: While a timer is helpful to keep track of the hours, the real hero for roasting is a great meat thermometer, which will register the internal temperature for perfect results every time.

For a ballpark estimate on timing, figure about 13 minutes per pound of turkey when cooking an unstuffed bird. Why unstuffed? You'd have to overcook your bird to ensure the stuffing inside reaches a safe temperature. And no amount of gravy can save bone-dry turkey like that. Opt instead to bake your stuffing recipe in a separate pan. If you’re curious how long it will take when cooking your turkey upside down, you might want to reconsider that method altogether. According to our Test Kitchen pros, it doesn’t lead to a juicier bird and all that flipping can actually be dangerous!

Let's Talk Turkey Tips

    • Bigger isn’t better when it comes to turkey. Buy two smaller birds (or one whole turkey and one turkey breast) if you’re feeding a crowd. A pair of 10-pound birds will cook more evenly and stay juicier than a 20-pound beast (plus, they'll be easier to carve!).
    • For the oven, the Test Kitchen agrees that 375℉ is the Goldilocks of temperatures for turkey roasting—it’s not too hot, not too cold, and cooks quickly enough to ensure that a bird is just right by dinnertime.
    • To check if the turkey is done, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The internal temperature should register 165°F and its juices should be clear, not pink.
    • Allow your turkey to rest for at least 25 minutes before carving. Cover it loosely with foil to keep it hot.

How Long Does It Take To Cook a Turkey?

Here’s our handy guide for cooking times by turkey weight.

how long to cook a turkey chart
Laura Formisano

Bump up the time if your turkey is still a little bit frozen on Thanksgiving morning. It's actually completely safe to roast an icy turkey, but it’ll take about 50 percent longer to cook than a fully thawed bird. Dinner might have to wait a few hours—hey, more time for Thanksgiving apps—but you'll still be rewarded with a delicious turkey.

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