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How to Roast a Perfect Turkey

Turkey Time & Temperature Requirements

Since so many folks are intimidated by the prospect of cooking a turkey, we went to the experts for the lowdown.

Sherrie Rosenblatt of the National Turkey Federation says the Open Pan dry heat method of roasting a turkey is the easiest and most reliable way to insure turkey success. This method results in a juicy, tender, flavorful, golden brown turkey.

The National Turkey Federation also offers these safety recommendations:

1. Do not roast the turkey in a oven temperature lower than 325° F. Poultry should be roasted at 325° F. or higher to avoid potential food safety problems.

2. Do not roast the turkey in a brown paper grocery bag. Present day grocery bags may be made of recycled materials and are not considered safe for food preparation.

3. Do use a meat thermometer (available at most grocery stores and kitchen shops) to determine the correct degree of doneness. Turkey is done when meat in the thigh reaches 180°F or (meat in the breast is finished at 170°F).

That said, here is an approximate turkey roasting timetable.

 

Unstuffed Turkey Stuffed Turkey
8 to 12 pounds — 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds — 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds — 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds — 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds — 4 1/2 to 5 hours
8 to 12 pounds — 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds — 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds — 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds — 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds — 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours
  Heat Method Oven Temperature Appearance Flavor Results Suitable For Stuffing?
Oven Pan
Conventional Oven
Dry Heat Meathod 325° F. results in minimum bird shrinkage and oven clean-up. Golden brown color; crisp skin; juicy Full roasted flavor; pan drippings are most concentrated to produce a great gravy; tender Yes
Wrapped in foil, high temperature Moist heat method with turkey encased in foil 450° F. May have bare bones on drumsticks; split skin; uneven browning; foil must be opened to produce a golden brown color May have a stewed or steamed flavor; a dry texture is possible No
Oven cooking bag Moist heat method with turkey enclosed in a cooking bag 350° F. May have bare bones on drumsticks; split skin; uneven color and browning; skin may be torn if it sticks to the bag May have a stewed or steamed flavor; a dry texture is possible Yes
Covered charcoal grill Dry heat method Try to maintain temperature between 325-350° F. Varies with outside temperature, humidity and briquettes; extra briquettes must be added each hour. Red-brown skin color; crisp skin; the charcoal combustion may result in a rosy band of meat just under the skin and slightly pink meat. Mild to moderate smoky flavor; tender No

Cheri Sicard is the editor of FabulousFoods.com where you’ll find recipes, an online cooking school, celebrity chef interviews, holiday and entertaining ideas, free cooking newsletters and more. http://www.fabulousfoods.com

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