Convection Oven Cooking Turkey Time Per Pound

Convection Oven Cooking Turkey Time Per Pound. (Image: Yvonne Duivenvoorden/Radius Images/GettyImages)

A convection oven is a time-saving addition to your kitchen. The primary difference between a conventional oven and a convection oven is the addition of one or two fans to circulate the hot air. While the hot air helps brown the exterior of a roast and leave the interior nicely moist, a turkey must be fully cooked, inside and out, to be safely consumed. When using convection to roast a turkey, the time per pound will vary, depending on the oven temperature.

Thaw the Turkey

Remove the turkey from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator to thaw. A 20-pound turkey should thaw in the refrigerator for four to five days, or 24 hours for every 5 pounds. If you're in a hurry, place the still-wrapped turkey in a sink of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. The turkey will take 30 minutes per pound to defrost. Do not thaw the turkey on the counter; bacteria can grow rapidly in the partially thawed turkey.

Prepare the Turkey

After the turkey has thawed, remove the wrapper. If desired, use your favorite recipe to prepare a brine for the turkey. Most brines consist of salt, sugar, spices and water. Do not brine a pre-basted turkey.

Place the turkey breast-side down in a large pot or food-safe bag and cover it with the brine. Put it in the refrigerator and allow it to soak for 45 to 60 minutes per pound. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it with fresh water in the sink. Pat dry and put the turkey back in the refrigerator, uncovered for 1 hour, so the skin is dry when it goes into the oven.

Set the Oven Temperature

Setting the temperature is a "six of one, half-dozen of the other" type of decision. A careful review of your convection oven manual will reveal if it automatically adjusts the temperature of the oven, or if you should reduce the heat by 25 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure even cooking.

You can speed up the turkey cook time per pound by setting the convection oven at the "normal" 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit that you would use for a conventional gas or electric oven. While this results in a fully cooked turkey in approximately one-quarter of the time, or 10 to 15 minutes per pound, the hot air circulating around the turkey may result in drier breast meat.

Alternately, you can reduce the convection oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and roast the turkey for approximately 20 minutes per pound. The lower temperature allows the turkey to cook evenly inside and out, resulting in a fully cooked, moist bird. The skin, however, may not be as crispy as a conventional oven or higher cooking temperature would produce.

Roast the Turkey

Because the convection oven depends on air circulation to speed the cooking process, use a roasting pan with low sides. If you use a disposable pan to make cleanup easy, set the pan on a similarly sized cookie sheet. This supports the disposable pan and turkey, so you don't spill the drippings or drop the turkey when you remove it from the oven. Place the turkey on the lowest rack. Do not cover the turkey unless it's browning too rapidly, usually near the end of the cook time.

Check the Turkey Temperature

Begin checking the turkey's temperature at approximately one-half to two-thirds of the normal cooking time. The turkey must reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast and thigh. If the breast is browning too quickly and the thighs have not reached 165 degrees, cover the breast with aluminum foil. When the turkey is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

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