How Long Does It Take To Cook A 20-Pound Turkey?

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Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and food.

For many, it’s also a time to celebrate the pilgrims who braved the Atlantic Ocean in search of a new life in America.

Thanksgiving isn’t complete without turkey dinner for those people. 

The traditional Thanksgiving feast is an excellent opportunity to make your dinner memorable by cooking a turkey that doesn’t dry out before your guests arrive.

You might remember your parents or grandparents talking about how long a turkey takes to cook.

They might have even told you to cook it until the meat is ‘falling off the bones.’

However, what does that mean?

So, how long should you cook a turkey?

If you’re using a conventional oven, roast a 20-pound turkey at 325°F for about six hours until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Check the entire turkey’s temperature every hour using a food thermometer to track the progress.

More precise cooking times and temperatures prevent your turkey from overcooking or undercooking.

This article has more information on how long you should cook a turkey.

In addition, it offers some tips and pointers on how to get the perfect result every time.

While cooking a 20-pound turkey, how long should it take?

A 20-pound turkey will take 5 to 6 hours and 35 minutes to cook.

Yet, there are a lot of factors that contribute to how long it takes to cook a turkey.

For instance, it depends on the bird’s size, its thickness, whether there is stuffing inside, and even what type of oven you use.

To ensure your bird is perfectly cooked, avoid overshooting the mark by overcooking it.

If you’re cooking a 12-pound turkey at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need about 4 hours to cook the bird fully.

On the other hand, a 20-pound turkey will need about 6 hours to get the same results. 

The internal temperature of your turkey should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re using a digital thermometer.

Maintain an internal temperature between 180 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit using an instant-read thermometer.

Candy thermometers should read between 190 and 195 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long does it take to cook a 20lb stuffed turkey compared to an unstuffed one?

To reach 165°F, a 20lb stuffed turkey takes approximately 5 hours to cook in a roaster or oven.

This is because there is more air space between the stuffing and the turkey breast.

The more air space in the turkey, the lower the temperature needed to cook it than if you were using an unstuffed bird.

When cooked in an oven or roaster, an unstuffed 20lb turkey reaches 165°F after approximately 4 hours.

This is because there is less air space between the stuffing and the turkey breast.

Less air space means your turkey can’t cook at as low a temperature as an unstuffed bird.

In general, stuffed turkeys require longer cooking times than their unstuffed counterparts.

This is because you need to cook the stuffing first. 

A stuffed turkey has stuffing inside; you can count on some extra weight from the stuffing.

So, for a stuffed turkey, you’ll need to add some extra time to the cooking time to compensate for the extra weight.

What is the best temperature for cooking a turkey? Is it 325°F or 350°F?

Cooking a turkey at 325°F will give you a juicy bird with a crisp skin, but it may not cook well.

If you want to cook it at low internal temp, set your oven at 350°F.

However, this will result in a white interior and no brown crust, but it will be well cooked.

Turkey tends to cook faster when it’s done at a lower temperature, so this is a good place to start.

In addition, since turkey has less fat than other types of meat, you can cook it with minimum heat without losing its moisture.

To ensure that your turkey is fully cooked and has a delicious, easy-to-pull-apart brown crust, cook it at 350°F for about an hour.

Alternatively, if you want a steak that looks great but is not quite as done, cook it for about an hour and a half at 325°F.

Is it better to cover or uncover a turkey when cooking it?

When roasting a turkey, covering it with foil is one of the best ways to preserve its juices.

If you don’t cover the turkey, it may dry out and brown more quickly.

So, it needs less time in the oven.

Covering also protects the turkey from any splatters or spills during cooking.

Covering and uncovering the turkey will affect its temperature.

If you cover your turkey, it will keep warm while it cooks.

If you open the foil or plastic wrap, however, the air will rush in from underneath.

As a result, your turkey’s internal temperature will rise slightly, but that’s not bad.

A Simple Recipe for Traditional Turkey

Ready to get your hands on that 20-pound turkey?

It’s time to put that oven mitt on because we’re about to teach you how to prepare a mouthwatering 20-pound turkey perfectly.

It’s the perfect way to add extra flavor to your holiday table.

What You’ll Need

  • One, 20-pounds turkey
  • Six onions, yellow (three quartered and skinned, three halved)
  • Two quartered lemons
  • Fresh rosemary, one ounce
  • One ounce of fresh sage
  • Fresh thyme, one ounce
  • 5 to 6 peeled and chopped carrots 
  • ten to twelve halved baby red potatoes
  • Olive oil, 1/2 a tablespoon

Herb Butter

  • Unsalted butter, 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, half a teaspoon
  • 12 to 10 crushed garlic cloves
  • Sage, rosemary, and thyme, all freshly chopped, 2 1/2 tablespoons

Instructions

  1. Make sure the oven is set between 325°F and 350°F.
  2. Take your thawed turkey out of the fridge and set it aside for an hour to reach room temperature.
  3. Prepare a large roasting pan; on its bottom, stack baby red potatoes, carrots, and onions. Sprinkle salt and pepper and add olive oil over them.
  4. To make herb butter, combine salt, pepper, butter, garlic, and fresh herbs in a small bowl.
  5. Place turkey on a roasting rack in a pan, breast side up. It’ll allow fat to drain out of the carcass and help keep the turkey moist during the cooking process.
  6. Remove your turkey’s giblets and neck. Then pat dry it with paper towels.
  7. Fill the turkey’s cavity with the onion, lemon, and herbs. Put several tablespoons of herb butter beneath the turkey’s breasts by loosening the skin with your fingers. Brush the remaining herb butter mixture over the entire turkey. 
  8. Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; don’t touch bone or other parts of the bird. Keeping the thermometer probe on the thigh for approximately 10 minutes will allow you to calculate the cooking time.
  9. Bake at 325F for 15 to 20 minutes per pound.
  10. The meat thermometer should read 180 degrees F in the center and at the thighs and legs. The ideal internal temperature for a well-cooked bird is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if any part is not cooked enough, re-bake it.
  11. Remove your bird from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This lets all the juices redistribute evenly throughout the piece, ensuring the turkey is moist and flavorful.

Side Dishes that Pair Well with Baked Turkey

Baked turkey is one of the easiest meals to make for dinner because it’s versatile.

You can add all kinds of side dishes to your bird and make it a complete meal.

Here are some side dishes that pair well with baked turkey:

Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic

The mushroom flavor pairs well with the turkey.

So, it’s a good choice if you’re trying to get your guests excited about the main dish.

You can also top it with breadcrumbs for extra crunch.

Sautéed Spinach

This dish pairs well with roasted vegetables because they both have similar flavors, think garlic and rosemary variations.

Moreover, they both go well with turkey meat.

Just ensure not to overcook them as they should be al dente.

Roasted Asparagus

Roasting asparagus brings out its natural sweetness.

Therefore, it works well with baked turkey.

You can add lemon juice or olive oil if you want something zingier.

Cranberry Sauce

You don’t have to stop at just turkey and mashed potatoes; you can also make cranberry sauce.

There’s nothing easier to make than this, and no one will mind when you serve it for dessert.

Tips for Baking Delicious Turkey

When preparing your Thanksgiving turkey, practice the same care and attention that goes into preparing a fine meal.

The tips below will help you prepare a deliciously moist and flavorful turkey dinner.

  1. Don’t overcook the turkey. It should reach an internal temperature of 165° F (75°C) when it comes out of the oven. If the internal temperature reaches 180°F (82°C), your turkey has reached its safe cooking time. Therefore, you should take it out of the oven.
  2. Make sure your bird is thawed properly before cooking it. Allow the turkey to thaw in its original packaging.
  3. Allow your turkey to rest for 15 minutes before carving each piece of meat off its bones. When you place it on top of vegetables or salad, all the juices will remain inside instead of running out.
  4. Choose the right turkey for your needs. A whole, bone-in turkey, is a great choice for roasting. However, if you’re looking for tender meat easy to carve, go with a boneless, skinless turkey breast.
  5. Cook on low heat so there will be lots of juices inside the bird when it comes out of the oven. For best results, set your oven temperature at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Always use a meat thermometer when cooking your turkey.
  7. Coat your turkey with plenty of seasonings before putting it in the oven. You can use an herb rub, vegetable oil, or simply salt and pepper – whatever your heart desires.

Conclusion

Finding out what method works best for different meats can be fun when you experiment with them.

However, in the case of turkey, don’t deviate too far from the standard.

The safest way to cook it is to follow our directions as they’ve been tried and tested.

Besides, who knows what the future holds?

You might even become an expert at preparing the perfect turkey in short order.

How Long Does It Take To Cook A 20-Pound Turkey

How Long Does It Take To Cook A 20-Pound Turkey?

The traditional Thanksgiving feast is an excellent opportunity to make your dinner memorable by cooking a turkey that doesn’t dry out before your guests arrive.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 1515 kcal

Equipment

  • Toast oven

Ingredients
  

  • 20- pounds turkey
  • 6 onions yellow
  • 2 quartered lemons
  • 1 ounce Fresh rosemary
  • 1 ounce fresh sage
  • 1 ounce Fresh thyme
  • 6 peeled and chopped carrots
  • 12 halved baby red potatoes
  • 1/2 a tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 a teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 crushed garlic cloves

Instructions
 

  • Make sure the oven is set between 325°F and 350°F.
  • Take your thawed turkey out of the fridge and set it aside for an hour to reach room temperature.
  • Prepare a large roasting pan; on its bottom, stack baby red potatoes, carrots, and onions. Sprinkle salt and pepper and add olive oil over them.
  • To make herb butter, combine salt, pepper, butter, garlic, and fresh herbs in a small bowl.
  • Place turkey on a roasting rack in a pan, breast side up. It’ll allow fat to drain out of the carcass and help keep the turkey moist during the cooking process.
  • Remove your turkey’s giblets and neck. Then pat dry it with paper towels.
  • Fill the turkey’s cavity with the onion, lemon, and herbs. Put several tablespoons of herb butter beneath the turkey’s breasts by loosening the skin with your fingers. Brush the remaining herb butter mixture over the entire turkey.
  • Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; don’t touch bone or other parts of the bird. Keeping the thermometer probe on the thigh for approximately 10 minutes will allow you to calculate the cooking time.
  • Bake at 325F for 15 to 20 minutes per pound.
  • The meat thermometer should read 180 degrees F in the center and at the thighs and legs. The ideal internal temperature for a well-cooked bird is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if any part is not cooked enough, re-bake it.
  • Remove your bird from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This lets all the juices redistribute evenly throughout the piece, ensuring the turkey is moist and flavorful.

Nutrition

Calories: 1515kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 176gFat: 83gSaturated Fat: 35gPolyunsaturated Fat: 13gMonounsaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 675mgSodium: 1630mgPotassium: 2012mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1966IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 191mgIron: 9mg
Keyword How Long Does It Take To Cook A 20-Pound Turkey?
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