Everything you need to know to cook a turkey

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Katherine Whaley got a lesson on carving a Thanksgiving turkey (KTRK)

Wondering how to cook a turkey or how long to cook a turkey? Butterball has your answers.

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Wondering how to cook a turkey or how long to cook a turkey? Butterball has your answers.


Roasting in an oven is one of the most popular ways to cook a turkey. It's simple, convenient, and gives your turkey a classic flavor.

We'll start with roasting a turkey, then scroll down for instructions on brining a turkey, pre-cooked turkeys, boneless roasts, baking a turkey, and cooking whole turkey breasts. Whether you're a first-time cook or a seasoned pro, we've got answers to all of your questions.

ROASTING A TURKEY
If you're using a convection oven, be sure to consult Butterball's adjusted cooking instructions. Consult your manufacturer's handbook for tips to use your specific oven.

The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line provides answers to all turkey questions in English and Spanish at 1-800-BUTTERBALL (800-288-8372) from now until December 24. It's open Monday through Friday from 8am-8pm CT, and on Thanksgiving Day from 6am-5:00pm CT.

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How to carve a turkey
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Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkeys

Roasting a whole turkey is easier than you think.

Just follow these simple instructions for a fresh or thawed turkey:

Preheat oven to 325° F. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels.
Place turkey breast side up on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.
Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. (Tucking the wings will help stabilize the turkey in the pan and when carving) Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.

Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh without touching the bone. When the thigh is up to temperature, and if the turkey is stuffed, move the thermometer to the center of the stuffing.

Place your turkey in the oven.

When the turkey is about done, loosely cover breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of foil to prevent overcooking.

Your turkey is done when temperature is 180° F in thigh and 165° F in breast or stuffing. Lift turkey onto platter, and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Cooking Times in a Regular Oven (325°F)

Weight / Cook Time (Unstuffed) / Cook Time (Stuffed)
4 1/2-7 lbs.- 2-2 1/2 hrs. / 2 1/4-2 3/4 hrs.
7-9 lbs.- 2 1/2-3 hrs. / 2 3/4-4 1/2 hrs.
9-18 lbs.- 3-3 1/2 hrs. / 3 3/4-4 1/2 hrs.
18-22 lbs.- 3 1/2-4 hrs. / 4 1/2-5 hrs.
22-24 lbs.- 4-4 1/2 hrs. / 5-5 1/2 hrs.
24-30 lbs.- 4 1/2-5 hrs. / 5 1/2-6 1/4 hrs.

Roasting Tip
If you don't have a rack, crunch aluminum foil into a coil or use vegetables like carrots to keep your turkey off the bottom of the pan.

Cooking in a Convection Oven (325°F)

Weight / Cook Time (Unstuffed) / Cook Time (Stuffed)

6-10 lbs.- 1 1/2 -2 hrs. / 1 3/4-2 1/2 hrs.
10-18 lbs.- 2-2 1/2 hrs. / 2 1/2-3 1/4 hrs.
18-22 lbs.- 2 1/2-3 hrs. / 3 1/4-3 3/4 hrs.
22-24 lbs.- 3-3 1/2 hrs. / 3 3/4-4 1/4 hrs.

PUMPKIN PIE RECIPES
Tropical Pumpkin Pie
Toffee Pumpkin Pie
Easy, No-Bake Pumpkin Pie

Frozen Stuffed Whole Turkeys

Frozen stuffed turkeys go from freezer to oven without thawing. Just follow these simple instructions for a perfectly roasted turkey:

Preheat oven to 325° F. Hold under running water and remove giblets, neck, and gravy packets.
Place turkey on flat rack in a shallow roasting pan, 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.
Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.
Cover neck and exposed stuffing with foil to prevent over-browning. Place turkey in pre-heated oven.

When turkey is about 3/4 done, loosely cover breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of foil to prevent overcooking.

After about 3 hours, insert an oven-safe thermometer deep into the thigh without touching the bone.
Begin checking the turkey for doneness about 30 minutes before the recommended cook time.
Your turkey is done when meat thermometer reaches 180° F in thigh and 165° F in center of stuffing.

Lift turkey onto platter and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Cooking in a Regular Oven (325°F)
Weight / Cook Time

7-9 lbs. / 4-4 1/2 hrs.
9-12 lbs. / 4 1/2-5 hrs.
12-14 lbs. / 5-6 hrs.

BRINING A TURKEY

Brining is similar to marinating, but is primarily focused on moistening the meat as opposed to adding flavor. Brining your turkey prior to cooking will help ensure you end up with a deliciously moist and flavor-packed turkey for your next gathering.

Brining Steps

The first step in the process is selecting your brine recipe. Our Savory Turkey Brine made with Kikkoman Soy Sauce is a simple and versatile choice that works for any occasion. Once you've selected your brine you'll need to:

Purchase a fresh turkey to eliminate the need to thaw, or completely thaw a frozen turkey.
The night before roasting, remove the giblets and turkey neck. Rinse the turkey inside and out.
Prepare your brine. Be sure to mix ingredients until all of the salt is dissolved. If your brine is heated, be sure to cool it to room temperature before brining.
Place your turkey, breast down, in a large container made of food-grade plastic, stainless steel, glass, or a brining bag. Be sure the container will fit in your fridge.
Add brine, covering the entire turkey.
Place in the refrigerator for the specified period of time.
Remove turkey from brine after recommended time. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Cook turkey as desired.

Perfect Brine Time
12 lbs. or less 8 to 12 hrs.
12 to 14 lbs. 9 to 14 hrs.
20 lbs. and over 15 to 20 hrs.

Savory Turkey Brine Recipe

2 gallons cold water
10 ounces Soy Sauce
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dried sage
2 tablespoons dried celery seed
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 16 ? 24 lbs. Butterball? Whole Turkey
Mix all ingredients until the salt is dissolved and follow our Brining Steps.
Did You Know
As a rule of thumb, you should brine your turkey 45 to 60 minutes per pound.

PRE-COOKED WHOLE TURKEYS

Fully cooked turkeys are an easy way to get a great tasting turkey on the table in less time. Follow these special directions for a delicious meal:

Preheat oven to 325° F. Remove wrapper. Do not stuff.
Place thawed turkey, breast side up, on flat rack in shallow roasting pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.
Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.
Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the thigh without touching the bone.
Place turkey in pre-heated oven and heat until hot (140° F).

BAKED TURKEY
Cover breast loosely with foil after 1 to 1 1/4 hours to prevent over-browning and drying.
Begin checking the turkey for doneness about 30 minutes before the recommended cook time.
Your turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 140° F in thigh.
Carve and serve immediately.

Cooking in a Regular Oven (325°F)

Weight / Cook Time Baked (Thawed) / Cook Time Baked (Frozen) / Cook Time Smoked (Thawed)
8-10 lbs.- 1 1/4-1 3/4 hrs. / 2 1/4-3 1/4 hrs. / 1 1/4- 1/2 hrs.
10-16 lbs.- 1 3/4-2 1/4 hrs. / 2 3/4-3 3/4 hrs. / 1 1/2-2 hrs.
16-18 lbs.- 2 1/4-2 1/2 hrs. / 3 1/4-4 hrs. / 2-2 1/2 hrs.
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Whether you're grappling with home-cooked leftovers or looking for a restaurant to make Thanksgiving dinner for you, Weber Grill has the answers.

WHOLE TURKEY BREASTS

Turkey breasts cook up tender and delicious, and are easy to roast when you follow these instructions:

Preheat oven to 325° F.
Remove whole breast from bag. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels.
Place breast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in a 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan.
Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.
Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in thickest part of breast reaches 170° F. If breast is stuffed, center of stuffing should be 165° F.
Roasting time will vary if turkey is covered or placed in an oven-cooking bag.
Before you remove the stuffing and carve, let your turkey breast stand for 15 minutes to allow the juices to set.

You can roast a frozen turkey breast too. Just follow these steps:

Roast skin side down, uncovered, on a flat rack in a 2-inch deep open roasting pan at 325° F for the first hour.
Remove from oven and carefully remove gravy packet and refrigerate packet for future use.
Turn breast skin side up, and brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance. Return to oven.
Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in thickest part of breast reaches 170° F. If breast is stuffed, center of stuffing should be 165° F.
Let breast stand for 10 minutes before carving.

Cooking in a Regular Oven (325°F)

Weight / Cook Time (Unstuffed) / Cook Time (Stuffed)

3-5 1/2 lbs. - 1 1/2-2 1/4 hrs. / 2-2 3/4 hrs.
5 1/2-9 lbs. - 1 1/4-2 3/4 hrs. / 2 3/4-3 1/4 hrs.

Cooking in a Convection Oven (325°F)

Weight / Cook Time (Unstuffed) / Cook Time (Stuffed)

3-5 1/2 lbs. - 1 1/2 -2 hrs. / 1 3/4-2 1/2 hrs.
5 1/2-9 lbs. - 2-2 1/2 hrs. / 2 1/2-3 1/4 hrs.
18-22 lbs. - 2 1/2-3 hrs. / 3 1/4-3 3/4 hrs.
22-24 lbs. - 3-3 1/2 hrs. / 3 3/4-4 1/4 hrs.

Cooking in a Regular Oven (325°F)

Weight / Unstuffed
3-5 1/2 lbs. 3-3 3/4 hrs.
5 1/2-9 lbs. 3 3/4 -4 1/2 hrs.

BONELESS ROASTS

For smaller groups that love that roasted turkey taste, try a boneless roast. It's easier than ever with these directions:

Preheat oven to 325° F.
Remove outer plastic netting and packaging. Leave inner string netting on the roast.
Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels. Refrigerate gravy packet.
For easier net removal before serving, lift string netting and shift position on roast.
Place roast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan.
Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in center of breast roast reaches 170° F and in center of turkey roast reaches 175° F.
Roasting time will vary if turkey is covered or placed in an oven-cooking bag.
For easier net removal after roasting, wrap roast in foil and let stand 10 minutes. Remove netting and slice roast.

To cook roast from frozen, try this method:

Preheat oven to 325° F.
Remove gravy packet with spatula and refrigerate.
Place roast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in a 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan.
Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in center of breast roast reaches 170° F and in center of turkey roast reaches 175° F. For easier net removal after roasting, wrap roast in foil and let stand 10 minutes. Remove netting and slice roast.
Cooking in a Regular Oven (325°F)

Thawed / Frozen
1 3/4-2 hrs. / 2 1/2-3 hrs.

Cooking in a Regular Oven (325°F)

Frozen
2 1/2-3 hrs.

Roasting Tip
Since you can't adjust the string netting when roasting from frozen, be sure to wrap the roast in foil after it comes out of the oven.
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