It is the centerpiece of every Thanksgiving dinner, and possibly the most stressful piece of cooking of the year!
Knowing how long to cook your turkey is the first step in creating a perfect meal. Some people use a meat thermometer but the real secret of cooking turkey is knowing its weight.
Once you've got that piece of info in your pocket, you will easily be able to know how long it needs to be cooked, irrespective of whether you are grilling, roasting or deep-frying.
How Long Do You Cook A Turkey?
The general rule for cooking a turkey is just twenty to twenty-five minutes for each pound.
However, this can vary as it depends on whether the turkey is unstuffed or stuffed. You can use a meat thermometer to find out if the turkey is cooked or not. Always keep in mind that the turkey needs to be cooked until its skin becomes golden light. Once it gets to the desired color, make sure to cover it loosely with some kind of foil tent.
In the last 40-45 minutes when you are baking or frying the turkey, take out the foil tent so that you can brown the skin. Although you don’t need to do basting it will assist in promoting the browning. Now keep in mind that the only proper test for checking whether a turkey is done is the meat’s temperature and not the skin color.
Just ask any professional chef and you would get the reply that the turkey gets done only when the thigh meat achieves the internal heat of about 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For an accurate reading, just ensure that the thermometer is not hitting the bone. In addition, if the turkey is stuffed, keep an eye on the dressing’s temperature. It must be around 75 degrees C (165 degrees Fahrenheit).
Remove the turkey from the oven, when it is done and allow it to cool down for about 20-30 minutes before you begin to carve. This helps in the redistribution of juices throughout the meat, so carving becomes easy.
Things To Keep In Mind While Cooking A Turkey
● Temperature of the Turkey
Do you know the best way to find out if a turkey is done? Just check its temperature. Most food experts say that a turkey is safe to eat if it is cooked at a minimum temperature of about 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to check the internal temperature present in the innermost part of the wing and thigh, and even the breast (especially the thickest part).
● Never believe The Pop-Up
Sometimes your turkey might have a “pop-up” temperature indicator. Now that is good but it is highly better if you also check the inner temperature of the turkey, especially at the wings, breast, and thigh using a food thermometer.
● Basic Roasting of A Turkey
If you are roasting a turkey, it is recommended that you place it on a 325 degrees Fahrenheit oven. It is for a fresh or fully defrosted bird. Now for unstuffed one, it will easily take about 14-18 minutes for each pound. Cooking a frozen turkey will take more than 50% longer compared to the recommended time.
● Cooking A Turkey on Convection Oven
Keep in mind that your turkey will cook faster when it is placed in a 325 degrees Fahrenheit oven. Now for 8lbs, it will take 1.23 hours, 12 lbs 1.73 hours and for 14 and 18 lbs, it will take 2 and 3 hours respectively.
● Grilling A Turkey
It can be quite tricky when you are working on a grilled turkey. The grill is quite different and it will vary compared to other conventional methods of cooking. For example, to grill a 8 lb turkey, you need to spend 90 minutes, 12 lbs will take about 134 minutes and 18 lbs will take about 200 minutes.
Time Required To Fry 12 lb Turkey
For deep frying a 12 lb turkey, you might spend about 4 to 6 minutes for each pound, especially when you are cooking it in 350 degree F oil. Now if you are grilling a 12 lb turkey it will take about 135 minutes.
Irrespective of whatever method you take and the time devoted, you must allow the turkey to cool down just before you serve. It allows the juices present inside it to seep all through its stuffed ingredients and the major chunk of the meat.