Whether stuffed or unstuffed, whole turkey is the centerpiece at any Thanksgiving feast or weeknight dinner. The turkey cook time and temperature is key to a delicious and juicy turkey. I like to bake the whole turkey in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Now the question is this. How long to cook a turkey at 325 degrees? Let’s cover the answer in this post and some tips on the recipe to make oven baked turkey with stuffing.
It takes 20 minutes to cook turkey at 325 degrees F in the oven per pound. This rule applies only to unstuffed turkey. If the turkey has a stuffing and it is non-meat, the cooking time will slightly increase for a few minutes. This temperature will give you a turkey that is incredibly juicy and pull-apart tender. The skin is smooth and barely golden. You will experience no crunch when having a bite.
Slow baking leads to a uniformly cooked, moist and flavorful turkey, but it doesn’t provide a crust. Those who have a soft spot for crunchy and crispy food can bake the turkey at 400 or 425 degrees. You will get a melt-in-your-mouth meat covered by crispy and golden brown skin. Baking the whole turkey at 400 degrees take 10 minutes per pound, and at 425 degrees, it is 8 minutes per pound. Do not use 450 degrees F for a full roasting session as it will cause the turkey to dry out, making it unappetizing and chewy. You can use this temperature only for 5-7 minutes to broil the turkey’s surface.
To make sure every part of turkey cooks well, we recommend you to bake it at 325 degrees. Slow cooking guarantees the meat cooks through uniformly. Also, longer cooking time for the turkey allows the flavors of the seasonings to reach deeper into the meat, making it more appetizing. If you want the turkey to come out with a crispy and golden brown skin, you may bake it at 375 or 400 degrees. Still, we recommend you to use another tactic. Bake first at 325 degrees to cook the turkey meat well, then turn on the broiler to broil the turkey in the last minutes of baking to create the crust.
There are many recipes for oven baked turkey. However, there’s one easy turkey recipe that I like to use. And here’s how to cook the whole turkey in the oven.
Bring turkey out of the freezer and let it come to room temperature 1 hour before cooking. You can bake it cold or frozen but it will cause the meat to cook unevenly and longer.
Rub the turkey with salt and pepper. Take your time to cover with seasonings each inch of the turkey meat. Sprinkle with olive oil for added flavor and enhanced crust. While you can leave the cavity empty, we recommend you to place some aromatics in it. Stuff the cavity with onion rings, carrot slices, celery stalks, rosemary springs, and black pepper.
Position a rack on a roasting pan and place the turkey breast-side down on it. The roasting pan will collect the drippings for basting.
Bake the whole turkey at 325 degrees for 20 minutes per pound. After every 30 minutes, baste with the drippings accumulated in the pan. You can mix them with water to make into a basting solution. Once baking is done, remove the turkey from oven. Let the juices redistribute for 15 minutes, then slice and serve.
The oven broiler can help you to cut down the turkey cooking time by a few minutes. Once 3/4 of baking time has passed, turn on the broiler and broil the turkey for 10 minutes. After the broiling, remove the turkey from oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing.
Another method of speeding up the process you can rely on is convection. Unlike broiler, it doesn’t cause a thick and dark-brown crust. It simply uses the hot air and circulate it around the turkey for an even cooking.
The best sauce for a turkey roast is a turkey gravy. It’s easy to make and it’s insanely delicious alongside the Thanksgiving bird. First off, strain the drippings from the turkey through a fine sieve to get rid of solid pieces. Melt butter over medium heat and mix in flour and thyme. Let it come to a boil, then season with salt and pepper, and whisk constantly for 5 minutes until the mixture gets thick. Finally remove from the heat source and serve warm.
You can spice up a whole turkey with side dishes as well. Some side dishes that goes well with turkey include roasted garlic mashed potato, stuffed acorn squash, cheesy spinach, green been casserole, and creamy brussel sprouts with sautéed mushrooms.
There’s nothing better than serving turkey meat with fine wine and alcohol. My personal favorites are Chardonnay and Champagne but that’s up to your preference.
I normally serve 1.5 pounds of turkey meat per person in a serving. A whole turkey can weigh anything from 8 pounds to 24 pounds. And I normally have a turkey feast when I have 10 people at the table. So I would choose a whole turkey that’s at least 15 pounds.
Yes turkey can be pink in the center. Turkey is a very large bird. So it’s easy to cook the whole turkey unevenly as the thicker part of the turkey will take longer to cook. This pink center is more pronounced when you bake the turkey at high temperatures of 400 degrees in the oven.
The internal temp for turkey has to reach 165 degrees for the meat to be fully cooked. As the turkey is a very big bird, it is important to measure the turkey internal temperature at its breasts and thigh areas where the meat are thicker and get cooked at a longer time.
For 8 adults, it is good to choose a whole turkey of smaller size. A adult typically can finish up 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey meat. So a turkey of 8 to 12 pounds is ideal for 8 adults.
It takes 4 hours to cook a 12 pound turkey in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooking time for turkey is 20 minutes per pound. So if you have a 15 pound turkey, it will take 5 hours to cook. And a 20 pound turkey will take 6.5 hours to cook fully. This slow cooking at the low temperature gives you a turkey that is incredibly juicy and pull-apart tender. The skin is smooth and barely golden.