Find out exactly how long to cook the turkey, so you can stop stressing and start planning your Thanksgiving meal. Follow these simple turkey cooking time charts for roasting a whole turkey, per pound. I’ve included baking times for stuffed and unstuffed turkeys, as well as turkey breast.
How long does it take to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving?
When Thanksgiving rolls around, one of the biggest stressors is cooking the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. For me, the hardest part of planning is figuring out how long it takes to cook the turkey.
To make things easier for myself (and for you), I put together these turkey roasting time charts (pound by pound), so I can estimate and plan without the hassle. I did the math for turkeys of all sizes–as small as 2-3 pounds, and as large as 24 pounds. You’ll find cooking time estimates for turkeys both stuffed and unstuffed. And I’ve included time charts for cooking turkey breast too!
How Long to Cook a Turkey Per Pound (Charts)
Keep these turkey cooking times handy, so you know how long to cook your whole turkey or turkey breast in the oven. If you are planning to cook your turkey with a different method, scroll down to the FAQ for some more time estimates.
Note: These roasting times are all estimates–the exact time may vary depending on your oven, the meat-to-bone ratio of your turkey, and other factors. Make sure your turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F before consuming.
Whole Turkey Cooking Time (Unstuffed)
As an estimate, cook a whole turkey in the oven for about 13-15 minutes per pound. I’ve done the math for you for a turkey between 8 pounds and 24 pounds, roasted at 325°F.
|Turkey Size (Pounds)||Roasting Time|
|8-11 lbs.||2-3 hours|
|12 lbs.||3 hours|
|13 lbs.||3 hours, 15 minutes|
|14 lbs.||3 hours, 30 minutes|
|15 lbs.||3 hours, 45 minutes|
|16 lbs.||4 hours|
|17 lbs.||4 hours, 15 minutes|
|18 lbs.||4 hours, 30 minutes|
|19 lbs.||4 hours, 45 minutes|
|20 lbs.||5 hours|
|21-24 lbs.||5-6 hours|
Note: Smaller turkeys (under 12 pounds) and larger turkeys (over 20 pounds) don’t follow the 15 minute rule quite as well, so I’ve included a range. Always keep an eye on your turkey and check the internal temp to make sure you don’t overcook it.
Stuffed Turkey Cooking Time
As a general rule of thumb, add 30 minutes (per pound) to the roasting time if your turkey is stuffed.
|Turkey Size (Pounds)||Roasting Time|
|8-11 lbs.||2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours|
|12 lbs.||3 hours, 30 minutes|
|13 lbs.||3 hours, 45 minutes|
|14 lbs.||4 hours|
|15 lbs.||4 hours, 15 minutes|
|16 lbs.||4 hours, 30 minutes|
|17 lbs.||4 hours, 45 minutes|
|18 lbs.||5 hours|
|19 lbs.||5 hours, 15 minutes|
|20 lbs.||5 hours, 30 minutes|
|21-24 lbs.||5 1/2 – 6 hours|
Note: I don’t recommend cooking stuffing inside the turkey, because it is much harder to get fully cooked stuffing without overcooking your turkey. Instead, make stuffing outside of the turkey (aka dressing).
Turkey Breast Cooking Time
Generally, estimate 15-20 minutes of roasting time per pound for turkey breasts, cooking at 325°F.
|Turkey Breast Size (Pounds)||Roasting Time|
|2-3 lbs.||45-60 minutes|
|4-5 lbs.||1 hour, 15 minutes|
|6 lbs.||1 hour, 30 minutes|
|7 lbs.||1 hour, 45 minutes|
|8 lbs.||2 hours|
|9 lbs.||2 hours, 15 minutes|
|10 lbs.||2 hours, 30 minutes|
|11 lbs.||2 hours, 45 minutes|
|12 lbs.||3 hours|
How do you know when the turkey is done?
The time charts will help you estimate roasting time for your turkey, but they are not 100% guaranteed. The best and most accurate way to know when your turkey is done, is to check the internal temperature.
- Begin checking the internal temperature of the turkey about an hour before it’s set to be finished, in 15 minute intervals.
- Use an instant read meat thermometer to check for doneness.
- Insert the meat thermometer in 3 different spots to make sure it’s fully cooked through: innermost part of the thigh, innermost part of the wing, and thickest part of the breast.
Turkey should reach 165°F before consuming. Since it will continue cooking slightly while resting, I recommend removing it from the oven when the breast reads between 150-155°F, and the thigh should be around 160°F. Dark meat is better when it’s cooked to a slightly higher temp, so it’s okay (good, actually) if it ends up closer to 170-180°F after resting.
When should I start cooking my turkey for Thanksgiving?
When it comes to planning your Thanksgiving turkey journey, their are a few things to consider in addition to the turkey roasting time.
- Turkey Thawing Time: Estimate 24 hours of defrosting time for every 5 pounds of turkey.
- Brining Time: If you are going to wet brine or dry brine your turkey, that may require extra time.
- Prepping to Roast: You’ll need to fully preheat your oven, and let your turkey come to room temperature. Estimate 1 hour for this.
- Turkey Resting Time: And after cooking, your turkey will need to rest before carving and serving. This time allows the juices to be fully absorbed by the meat. Estimate 20-45 minutes of rest time.
So start defrosting days ahead, get your oven ready an hour early, use the turkey cooking chart above to plan, and add about half an hour (rest time) before you plan to sit down and eat.
All turkey should reach an internal temperature of 165°F before consuming. White meat (breast) is best at 165°F, while dark meat (legs) is best at 170-180°F.
I recommend roasting your turkey at 325°F for slow and even cooking. Setting your oven to 350°F won’t make a huge difference, but it will cook slightly faster, so start checking it earlier.
Although I would recommend fully thawing your turkey, it is safe to cook a turkey directly from frozen without defrosting. But the cooking time will increase by at least 50%. For example, if roasting a thawed, 12-pound unstuffed turkey takes about 3 hours, then cooking it from frozen would take closer to 4 ½ hours.
Yes! Cooking a turkey with stuffing takes slightly longer than cooking a turkey without stuffing–about 30 minutes extra per pound–because you need to ensure the stuffing is fully cooked.
Estimate 30 minutes per pound when smoking a turkey at 225-250°F.
A spatchcocked turkey will cook much faster–about 8-10 minutes per pound, roasting at 425°F.
Now that you know exactly how long it takes to cook a turkey in the oven, you’ll be set for Thanksgiving day! Keep these turkey cooking time charts on hand (bookmark or pin) so that you have them handy when you need them every year.
Thanksgiving Cooking Guides
Get more help, guidance, and recipes for your turkey and Thanksgiving meal!