Food & Drink

How long to thaw, roast a turkey on Thanksgiving

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Among all the Thanksgiving cooking questions each year, thawing and roasting the turkey poses the most.

By Thursday, you should have already gotten the thawing out of the way, giving your turkey an extended rest in the refrigerator. If not, you can safely speed things up by submerging the bird in cold water that you change every 30 minutes. It will thaw at the rate of 30 minutes a pound, according to Fine Cooking magazine.

Do not thaw the turkey on the counter at room temperature.

Thawing times

In cold water:

8 to 12 pounds: 4 to 6 hours

12 to 16 pounds: 6 to 8 hours

16 to 20 pounds: 8 to 10 hours

20 to 24 pounds: 10 to 12 hours

Roasting times

Use these USDA-recommended times instead of those found in older cookbooks and references. The times are for an oven temperature of 325 degrees and assume the turkey is fridge-cold.

A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured with a food thermometer “in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast,” according to the USDA. If cooking stuffing inside the bird, make sure the center of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees.

Unstuffed:

8 to 12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours.

12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours.

14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours.

18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours.

20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

Stuffed:

8 to 12 pounds: 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

12 to 14 pounds: 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

14 to 18 pounds: 4 to 4 1/4 hours.

18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours.

20 to 24 pounds: 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours.

Source: fsis.usda.gov.

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