Timetable for Roasting a Turkey

turkey fresh out of the oven
Turkey fresh out of the oven

Roasting Guidelines

Timetable for roasting a turkey is the most essential part of preparing and succeeding. Roasting, frying, brining a turkey are all excellent options, but “how long do I cook it” is the looming question. Sadly, it’s always been some sort of mystery, but let’s break it down to a simple science. The information below will hopefully clear up any questions regarding the cooking of the turkey. It’s simple logic, once you understand the principles needed to succeed in this venture. Some things to consider for your meal.

Some Questions…

  • How large is my turkey or how much does it weigh?
  • Once you know how heavy it is, now you figure out how long to roast your turkey?
  • One of the most important questions is, what temperature to roast your turkey?

Stop the confusion!

I’ve been through a number of trends with turkey prep. I think they are actual trends so the celebrity chef’s can get higher ratings, thus causing more confusion and stress. It doesn’t seem to make an ounce of difference if you baste every 15 minutes or not. Or if you do an over-night brine or not. What does make the difference is properly calculating the weight to time formula. The standard is 20 minutes a pound. I always use my meat thermometer to ensure my turkey is cooked through. Your thermometer should register between 160-180 degrees. Poke around a few places to be sure you’re on target.

Just leave it!

The method I’v found that works best, hands down is putting the seasoned turkey in the oven and letting it roast through the calculated time. You can check 1/2 hour before with your thermometer to gauge your time, but this method has been the best for me. Just leave it and let it cook and roast itself to perfection. No need to open and baste, no need to interfere. It really is that easy. I’ve always been able to deliver a soft, moist, juicy inside with a nice golden crisp skin on the outside.

The 3 sisters!

The decision of seasoning is your last dilemma. Decide, with herbs or with out? I love working with herbs. Sage, rosemary, oregano, I have yet to fail with these herbs. Getting the turkey smeared with a nice herbal butter is a perfect solution and gives an excellent outcome.

Feel free to visit my various pages on the turkey roast. I think you’ll find each one to be a bit different, (turkey posts) Now, see below a few guidelines and a timetable to roast your turkey.


  • Basting: No, you do not need to baste. Convection ovens will sear the turkey very quickly, locking in the juices.
  • If your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F (74 °C) for safety.
  • Ideal oven temperature is 350 °F or 175°C, see table below for roasting time
  • For quality, let the turkey stand for 20-30 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. The turkey will carve with ease.
    Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavities

Timetable for Roasting a Turkey

 Roasting Time (Unstuffed)Roasting Time (Stuffed) std.Roasting Time (Stuffed) convection
8 to 12 pounds2¾ to 3 hours3 to 3¼ hours2 to 2¼ hours
12 to 14 pounds3 to 3¾ hours3½ to 4 hours2½ to 2¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds3¾ to 4¼ hours4 to 4¼ hours2¾ to 3¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds4¼ to 4½ hours4¼ to 4¾ hours3¼ to 3¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds4½ to 5 hours4¾ to 5¼ hours3¾ to 4¼ hours
Cooking a turkey

Fresh turkey

Fresh turkey
our lovely bird


  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person
  • Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it
  • Keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak
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