How Long To Bake A Turkey (And Why)?

How Long To Bake A Turkey (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 15-20 minutes per pound

Turkey is a large bird. It is believed to be a native of North America. It belongs to the class of Aves and genus Meleagris. There are two species of turkey known so far. The two species are  Meleagris gallopavo and Meleagris ocellata. Meleagris gallopavo is also known as wild turkey. The male is believed to be bigger and colorful than the female.

Most of the wild turkeys are found in wild forests and that too in close proximity with the nut-bearing trees such as oak. They are omnivores and consume nuts, berries, and small insects like snails. They basically live in flocks and hunt for food.

Turkey is hunted for its meat. The meat of turkey is consumed worldwide. It has high nutritional value. It is an excellent source of protein. Along with protein, it is also rich in vitamin B6, B12, and zinc, etc. Turkey is consumed in the United States, Germany, etc.

How Long To Bake A Turkey

How Long To Bake A Turkey?

Unlike all other meat, turkey also takes time to get cooked. The timing of getting turkey cooked depends on the weight of turkey to be cooked. Turkey can be cooked by various methods such as baked in the oven, barbequing, and cooking it on the gas stove. But the most appropriate way of cooking a turkey is by baking it in the oven.

The most appropriate temperature to bake a turkey is 165 degrees to 175 degrees. It takes 1 pound of turkey for one person. It is believed that it takes 10-15 minutes of time to cook a single pound of turkey. Turkey is basically cooked in two ways that are stuffed turkey and unstuffed turkey. A stuffed turkey takes a little longer time to get cooked.

The following table shows the timings to cook different weights of turkey-

Weight Of TurkeyTiming
4-6 lb.1 hour 30 minutes
8-12 lb.3 hours
14-18 lb.3 hours to 4 hours

Why Does It Take This Long To Bake A Turkey?

In order to bake a turkey in the oven, the following steps have to be followed-

  1. Pe-heat the oven at 325 degree F. Pre-heating the oven ensures that the turkey’s cooking process is not slow.
  2. Thaw the turkey before hand. It can bedone in fridge, microwave etc.
  3. Insert the meat thermometer in the meat without it touching the bone.
  4. Place the turkey in the oven. Oil the tray before hand to prevent it from burning.
  5. When turkey is cooked to some extent, place aluminium foil on turkey’s breast to prevent overcooking of the breast.
  6. Check the temperature of meat thermometer. When the temperature reaches 140 F, take it out from oven.

To bake a turkey to perfection is a difficult task as it is a combination of different kinds of meat. The different meats get cooked at different time and temperature which make it rather difficult to get them baked to perfection. The breast portion is very tender and white. It gets cooked real fast as compared to other parts such as legs. One problem faced while cooking a turkey is that it gets coagulated due to overcooking.

The meat of a turkey consists of active muscles. More amount of active muscles are present in the dark part of the meat i.e legs. This portion gets a little longer time to get baked. The breast which is also considered the white meat takes much lesser time as compared to the dark meat. The white meat has less active muscles.


The key to baking a perfect turkey is to keep the right time and temperature in mind. The most appropriate temperature to bake a turkey is considered to be 165 degrees. The turkey is a combination of different kinds of flesh. That’s why it is suggested to bake a turkey at a lower temperature for a long time. This is done so that nothing gets overcooked.

The above information provided gives clear information on how to bake a turkey. Turkey is considered a chief dish that is consumed by a million people on thanksgiving.


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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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