Making the Perfect Bird – Part 3: Turkey Roasting Times & Planning


Update: We originally said to roast the turkey at 450. While the oven should be 450 when you put the bird in, immediately turn it down to 350 for the actual roasting. 

How long do you roast a Thanksgiving turkey? When does it come out of the fridge? Should I put the stuffing in the bird? All good questions! We like to do a little turkey workback schedule to make sure everything runs on time. And, this year we’re excited to be roasting our first turkey from the great folks at Skagit River Ranch.

Salt the Turkey
Salt the Turkey

Turkey roasting times Here’s the math. In a 350 degree oven, roast a turkey 13 minutes for every pound. Math is fun!

(16 lb bird)  X (13 mins per lb/60) = approx. 3.5 hours

When is the turkey done? When you pierce the meaty part of the thigh, the juice should run nearly clear, with just a bit of pink (all the way clear means it’s overdone). On an instant-read thermometer, stuck into the thigh and not touching the bone, the temp should be 170 degrees.

Turkey resting times Take the turkey out of the fridge two hours before roasting. This helps it cook evenly. After the turkey is done roasting, let it sit 30 minutes under a foil tent, so it has a moment to firm up.

Stuffing in the bird? For many, this is a personal question that only they can answer. For us, our finding is that turkey in the bird gets too soggy, leads to uneven roasting of the bird, and increases the roasting time. Therefore, we make all our stuffing outside the bird. Which, technically, makes it dressing.

Putting it all together  Here’s the bottom line: We’re planning to sit down to dinner at 5pm. Factoring in 30 minutes of rest, 3.5 hours of roasting, and two hours of warm-ups, we’ll pull the turkey from the fridge at 11am for no stress. Voila!

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