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Roasting a Whole Turkey

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 3/4-5 1/4 hours (2-5 days if frozen)

Serves: 8-24 servings


Roasting a Whole Turkey


  • Remove thawed turkey from packaging. Remove neck and giblets; toss or keep refrigerated if using later. Wash turkey inside and out with cold water; drain well. Pat dry with clean paper towels.
  • Place turkey, breast side up, on a flat rack in a roasting pan.
  • Brush skin with oil or rub with butter to prevent the skin from drying and to create a crisp, golden skin. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the thigh muscle, but not touching the bone*.
  • Place in a preheated 325°F oven. Bake according to roasting timetable. When turkey is golden brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent overcooked breast and burnt skin.
  • Start checking turkey for doneness about 1 hour before scheduled end time. Turkey should register 180°F deep in the thigh and juices should run clear.
  • When turkey is done, remove from oven. Allow to stand 15 minutes before carving.
  • Roasting Timetable for UnstuffedTurkey
    8-10 pounds: 2¾-3 hours
    11-15 pounds: 3-3¾ hours
    16-20 pounds 3¾-4¼ hours
    21-24 pounds 4¼-4¾ hours

    Roasting Timetable for Stuffed Turkey
    8-10 pounds: 3-3¾ hours
    11-15 pounds: 3½-4 hours
    16-20 pounds 4-4¾ hours
    21-24 pounds 4¾-5¼ hours
  • Stuffing Turkey:
    It’s safest to bake stuffing separately, but if stuffing the turkey is a must, place as much stuffing in turkey as will loosely fit JUST BEFORE roasting turkey. Do not over stuff or stuffing will not cook properly. (Bake remaining stuffing in a baking dish according to stuffing directions).

    Stuffing baked in a turkey MUST reach 165°F or hotter to be safe to eat. If stuffing is not 165°F when turkey is done roasting, remove from turkey and transfer to a baking dish. Continue baking until stuffing reaches 165°F before serving. This should only take about as long as the turkey should stand before carving.
  • Thawing Methods:
    There are two methods for thawing a turkey safely, refrigerator thawing and cold water thawing. Do not thaw turkey at room temperature or there will be a high risk for bacterial growth.

    Refrigerator Method - Leave turkey in original wrap and place in a shallow pan on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. It takes approximately 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey to thaw.
    Cold Water Method - Leave turkey in original wrap and place in sink and fill with cold water. Change the water every half hour to keep it cold and reduce the risk of bacterial growth. It takes approximately ½ hour per pound of turkey to thaw.
  • Thawing Timetable for Refrigerator Method
    8-10 pounds: 2 days
    11-15 pounds: 2-3 days
    16-20 pounds 3-4 days
    21-24 pounds 4-5 days

    Thawing Timetable for Cold Water Method
    8-10 pounds: 4-5 hours
    11-15 pounds: 6-8 hours
    16-20 pounds 8-10 hours
    21-24 pounds 10-12 hours

*It is recommended to use a meat thermometer in addition to the pop-up timer to insure a proper internal temperature of 180°F.