How Long To Cook a Turkey [Free Printables]

image by Claudio Schwarz | Unsplash

Turkey is a low-calorie meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all family gatherings. Before you jump into cooking a turkey, you must understand the basics. Thawing is another key aspect of the cooking process. This article will go through turkey cooking times, thawing methods, and tips for cooking a turkey.

Turkey cooking times

Cooking a turkey isn’t rocket science, but it does require certain cooking skills per pound. You can use a turkey cooking time calculator or use the chart below to find out how long to cook your turkey.

When it comes to the exact cooking time, you want to factor in each pound, desired level of doneness, and if it is stuffed or unstuffed. For example, a 14-pound stuffed turkey will take roughly four hours to cook at 325 F. Reference the chart below to find out how long it will take to cook your turkey.

Turkey Cooking Time Chart

Turkey thawing methods

While we all want to jump right into a recipe without having to do any additional prep, that’s typically not the case for cooking a turkey. You will most likely have to thaw your turkey before cooking. Thankfully there are two methods to make your life easier. 

Turkey Thawing Time Chart

Refrigerator thawing

Not serving your dinner for a few days? The refrigerator thawing method is great for people who have a little more time to spare. For the refrigerator thawing method, you’ll want to follow the tips below:

  • Make sure your turkey is in its original packaging
  • Keep it in the refrigerator
  • Add 24 hours per every four to five pounds to your thawing time

Cold water thawing

While your family patiently awaits your home-cooked meal, try the cold water method for speedy thawing. Follow the cold water thawing tips below:

  • Keep your turkey in a bucket of cold water
  • Change out the water every 30 minutes to ensure its coldness
  • Add an extra 30 minutes for every pound of turkey to your thawing time

Turkey cooking tips

Regardless of the holiday, make sure you follow these tips to ensure your turkey is cooked perfectly.

  • Purchase the correct size turkey based on your guest count. Buying the largest turkey isn’t always the best option.
  • Each person should get one pound of turkey or half a pound of turkey breast.
  • Avoid having too many leftovers by accounting for the correct amount per guest.
  • Factor in the thawing method and time to your total cooking time
  • Add a turkey brine for extra flavor — try incorporating salt, pepper, and fresh herbs brine.
  • Avoid overcooking your turkey by cooking your stuffing separately.
  • Add fresh herbs to your turkey for a burst of flavor
  • Make sure to use a large roasting pan and rack
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  • Check and see if your turkey reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 F.
  • Carve your turkey with professional carving tools
  • Use a large spoon or baster for a moist turkey
  • Use a large cutting board to carve your turkey


As the holiday season approaches and you begin preparing for your feast, make sure to keep our turkey tips in mind. Make sure to choose a thawing method and factor this time into your overall cooking time. Don’t overcomplicate your turkey recipe — opt for fresh herbs and the right tools to ensure a perfect turkey every time. 

You’re now ready to begin cooking for your harvest. We hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

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