Food & dining

Thanksgiving turkey cooking times and temperature

Thanksgiving turkey
Photo bySally Pasley Vargas; styling by Sheryl Julian and Sally Pasley Vargas

A turkey is done when a meat thermometer (preferably instant-read) inserted into the bird in three places — the inside of the thigh, the thickest part of the breast, and under the wing — registers 165 degrees. An instant-read thermometer is different from a regular meat thermometer. Where a regular thermometer sits in the meat during roasting, the instant-read is inserted and removed as soon as it registers a temperature.

It’s common for a turkey to be cooked sooner than you’re expecting. Don’t worry about this. The turkey can sit in a warm place without harm for at least 30 minutes. In fact, it should sit before carving to let the meat and juices settle. If the bird hasn’t browned enough, turn the oven up to 400 degrees for the last 20 minutes. SHERYL JULIAN


8-12 pounds, 2¾-3 hours


12-14 pounds, 3-3¾ hours

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14-18 pounds, 3¾-4¼ hours

18-22 pounds, 4¼-4½ hours


8-12 pounds, 3-3½ hours

12-14 pounds, 3½-4 hours


14-18 pounds, 4-4¼ hours

18-22 pounds, 4¼-5 hours

Source: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

Sheryl Julian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.