How to Tell if a Turkey is Done

How to Tell if a Turkey is Done

How To Tell If Your Turkey Is Done

There are several ways you can tell if your turkey is done roasting. The most reliable method is to use a meat thermometer. For food safety, the internal temperature of a whole turkey should reach a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Other signs of doneness include clarity of the juices, which should run clear, and the color of the meat closest to the bone, which should not be pink.

Using a Meat Thermometer

Stick an instant-read meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone, and let the thermometer take several seconds to read the temperature. For perfect turkey, take it out of the oven at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit; the internal temperature will continue to rise due to carryover cooking, during which the residual heat from the exterior of the turkey transfers toward the cooler inside. In addition, white meat cooks at a lower temperature than dark meat, so 160 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for perfectly cooked white meat.

Misleading Signs of Doneness

The color and crispness of the turkey's skin are not a good indicators of the turkey's doneness. Even a perfectly cooked turkey can look pale or overly browned.

Recommended Cooking Times for Turkey

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services's turkey roasting chart, turkeys should be roasted at 325 degrees Fahrenheit and cooked for the following time estimates (or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit):

Size of Turkey
4 to 6 pounds: unstuffed, 1.5 - 2.25 hours
6 to 8 pounds: unstuffed, 2.25 - 3.25 hours; stuffed, 2.5 - 3.5 hours
8 to 12 pounds: unstuffed 2.75 - 3 hours; stuffed, 3 - 3.5 hours
12 to 14 pounds: unstuffed 3 - 3.75 hours; stuffed, 3.5 - 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds: unstuffed 3.75 - 4.25 hours; stuffed, 4 - 4.25 hours
18 to 20 pounds: unstuffed 4.25 - 4.5 hours; stuffed, 4.25 - 4.75 hours
20 to 24 pounds: unstuffed 4.5 - 5 hours; stuffed, 4.75 - 5.25 hours

Originally published