How Long Does It Take to Cook a Fresh Turkey?

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Things You'll Need

  • Turkey

  • Meat thermometer

  • Oven

  • Roasting pan

  • Rack


Fresh turkey is an excellent choice as a main course for any special dinner of more than six guests. Turkey comes big enough to serve 20 guests and tastes good with many different side dishes. When planning your dinner, you will need to first determine how long it will take to cook.


Step 1

Once you have thoroughly cleaned your turkey, place it on a roasting pan with a rack. Coat with vegetable oil and sprinkle with your choice of seasonings. Cover with your roasting pan lid or aluminum foil.

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Step 2

Heat your oven up to 325 degrees and then place your turkey inside it.

Step 3

Cook an unstuffed turkey 20 minutes for each pound. So, if your turkey is 8 pounds you would cook it for 2 hours and 40 minutes. A 12-pound turkey would cook for four hours.

Step 4

Cook a stuffed turkey for 25 minutes per pound. This means that a 10-pound turkey would cook for 250 minutes or 4 hours and about 15 minutes.


Step 5

Check with a meat thermometer to make sure that your turkey is done. According to the USDA (see resources), your meat thermometer should be placed in to the breast. It should read at least 165 degrees F when it is safe to eat. You may want to continue cooking it to between 170 to 180 degrees F.


Make sure you wash the turkey, inside and out with cold water.

Remove the bag of giblets and the neck before cooking.


Even if your turkey has a pop-up timer, you need to check it with a meat thermometer to make sure it is safe to eat.


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