Tips for Roasting a Turkey

Norman Rockwell once painted a beautiful scene of a traditional Thanksgiving – a family eagerly eyeing a golden-brown roast turkey hot out of the oven. While Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without turkey, roasting a turkey doesn’t have to be limited to the holidays…or even a whole bird!

Turkey’s versatility makes it the perfect protein for any meal, but roasting a turkey makes it the star of the show at dinnertime. Whether whipping up a simple weeknight meal or hosting a festive feast, delicious roast turkey is just a few steps away.

Don’t let unfamiliarity intimidate you. We’ve answered some frequently asked questions to get you ready for roasting a turkey.

What temperature setting should I use when roasting a turkey?


What is the best way to roast a whole turkey?

A shallow roasting pan will allow oven air to flow completely around the turkey and catch any juices during the cooking process. If your roasting pan includes a rack, use that as well.

Note: Pans with sides higher than one inch will shield the thickest part of the turkey from the heat, which could result in uneven cooking.

If you’re using a convection oven, here are some helpful tips.

How long does it take to roast a turkey?

Depending on the size and cut of your turkey, cook times may vary. When preparing a turkey breast, estimate 1 hour of cook time per 3 pounds of meat. Larger breasts (8 lbs.) can take up to 3 hours. How your oven regulates temperature will also play a role in cooking time.

No matter the cook time, we recommend you verify doneness using a meat thermometer to test the temperature in the thickest part of the meat. When cooking a whole bird, check in three places: the thickest part of the thigh, breast and wing.

Should I stuff my turkey?

According to USDA’s Turkey Basics, the best way to ensure stuffing is safe to eat is to cook it separately from the turkey.

However, if stuffing is your preference, make sure to place it loosely into the breast cavity and verify the temperature of the stuffing has also reached 165 °F before removing it from the oven. Stuffing a turkey may increase the overall cook time.

Any other helpful tips for roasting a turkey?

  • Always start with a completely thawed turkey.
  • For easier clean-up, add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the roasting pan.
  • Pop-up timers are helpful as a preliminary step in judging the correct temperature, but a meat thermometer is the best final authority to determine doneness.
  • For enhanced fragrance, 2 cups of coarsely chopped celery, onion and carrots added to the breast cavity will enhance the fragrance and the flavor of the pan juices.
  • Let your turkey rest for at least 10-15 minutes after removing from the oven. This will help keep the meat extra juicy before carving.

Flavorful Roast Turkey Recipes