Did you know that turkeys can see better than humans?
Now you know.
That aside, the holidays are here, and you have all the time to prepare those time-consuming dishes like turkey.
As you peruse the different family recipes and settle on one, something catches your attention.
It requires baking a 20 lb. turkey.
Are you ready for that challenge?
How long to cook a 20lb turkey?
The cooking time varies depending on variables like ambient temperature, the turkey thickness, pot size, and personal preference.
For instance, a 20 lbs. turkey in a crock pot needs at least 7 hours on low and about 4 hours on high.
Bake for about 30 minutes a pound provided the final temperature reaches 165F.
How long to cook a 20 lb turkey?
Well, this is a question that many of us ponder at our kitchen counter.
Luckily, the article highlights all you need to know about turkey cooking temperature and time.
At what temperature do you cook a 20 lb. turkey?
According to the USDA, turkeys should be cooked to a final temperature of 165F—with a 10 minutes rest time.
Formerly, all poultry had to register an internal temperature of 180F for doneness.
However, recent studies by the USDA reveal that at 165F, the meat is microbiologically safe for consumption.
Regardless of the turkey cut, recipe, thickness, or weight, ensure it reaches at least 165F for medium doneness.
For leaner turkey cuts, use high heat to attain the tender and juicy result; otherwise, cooking them on low for a long will dry them before reaching 165F.
Alternatively, you can bake your turkey at 160F and let it overcook while it rests at 165F.
This allows your meat to redistribute the liquids resulting in extra juicy turkey.
How many hours do you cook a 20 lb turkey?
Different recipes suggest cooking a turkey at varying temperatures from 325F to 400F.
According to the USDA guidelines, 325F is the recommended temperature for poultry, stuffed or not.
Although low and slow is the rule when baking poultry, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t bake at a little warmer for almost the same time.
Baking turkey at higher temperatures hastens the cooking process but risks overcooking, burning, or worse, a dry, tough outcome.
However, you can briefly bake on high heat to help lock in the moisture and give tender, juicy turkey.
How long to roast a stuffed turkey at 325 degrees
Baking a 20 lbs. turkey takes about 15 to 20 minutes per pound at 325F oven heat to reach an internal temperature of 165F—with a 10 minutes rest time.
At this temperature, the turkey cooks evenly, resulting in tender meat with deepened flavors.
However, the time varies depending on turkey weight, stuffed or unstuffed, and the cooking method.
For instance, a 20 lbs. stuffed turkey would take about 25 minutes per pound at 325F to reach 165F internal temperature.
On the other hand, a 20-pound unstuffed turkey will be ready in about 12 to 18 minutes to pound at 325F.
How long to roast turkey at 350F?
A 20 lbs. turkey roasts for about 14 minutes a pound at 350F oven heat to reach an internal temperature of 165F—that’s for an unstuffed turkey.
That’s approximately three hours total cook time.
Stuffed turkey weighing 12 to 20 lbs. cooks at 15 to 20 minutes a pound at 350F to reach 165F—with a 10 minutes rest time.
The turkey has ample time to tenderize and cook evenly at this heat, resulting in dense flavors and tender meat.
The baking time also depends on whether the turkey is whole or in pieces.
For example, bone-in, skin-on cuts like breasts will cook for about 30 minutes a pound at 350F to reach 165F.
The prolonged period is due to the fat, skin, and bone making it extra juicy and evenly cooked.
How many hours to cook a 20-pound turkey at 400F?
At 400F, a 20 lbs. turkey cooks for 30 minutes per pound, depending on the size, thickness, and whether stuffed or unstuffed.
For example, a stuffed turkey weighing 20 lbs. takes about 3 hours total cook time.
The turkey should reach at least 165F with an added 10 minutes of rest time.
Baking at this temperature takes less time, locks in moisture, and produces caramelized crispy skin-which you can remove if your taste buds are against such.
How many hours to cook 20 lb turkey in a crock pot?
The key to cooking tender, moist, and flavorful turkey is to start with the right ingredients.
For example, white meat contains less fat than dark meat and is more economical.
Freezing it before baking keeps the turkey meat super juicy.
The answer depends on a few factors;
First, how big is your crock pot?
If you have a small one, it will take longer to cook the turkey than if you use a large one.
In addition, the size and thickness of your turkey will affect the time it takes to cook.
Lastly, what’s the oven temperature setting?
The turkey should be ready in about 8 hours if set on high heat.
However, cooking on low heat may take up to 12 hours.
How do you know when a 20 lb turkey is well-done?
Use a probe meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature, which should read 165F for a well-done turkey.
You measure by inserting the thermometer at the thickest part of your turkey, avoiding bones, fats, and gristle for accurate readings.
Remove the turkey from the heat source at 160F for 10 minutes and carry over cooking to reach 165F.
Alternatively, insert a long knife or fork at the center of your turkey to measure resistance.
If it slides in smoothly, the turkey is well-done.
However, resistance indicates prolonged cook time.
Not appropriate for a stuffed turkey.
Another way to measure doneness is by using a metal cake tester.
Slide a metal cake tester at the thickest part of your turkey; if it comes out clean, the turkey is well-done.
Or rub it against your inner wrist, and the turkey is cooked through if hot.
What’s the importance of resting my turkey?
Meat resting, also known as carry-over cooking, is when your turkey is well-done, but you let it stand before serving.
For example, if you’ve cooked a whole turkey, remove it from the oven at 160F and let it sit for about 10 minutes to reach a final temperature of 165F.
Resting the turkey enhances flavor by preventing overcooking—preferably, cover it in foil.
Carving the turkey before resting may cause liquids to seep, leaving you with dried meat.
How to store turkey: Storage Tips
Leftover tender turkey meat tastes better and makes excellent sandwiches.
You can refrigerate or freeze based on the remaining portion and your preference.
Refrigerate leftover turkey packed in airtight containers for up to 4 days.
Properly packaged turkey in freezer-safe bags can last up to a month in the freezer.
Fresh turkey meat
Portion your raw turkey according to the family recipes you want to prepare—this makes it easier while thawing.
Double wrap in plastic and place in the zip-top freezer to increase their shelf life and prevent freezer burns.
How do you reheat leftover turkey?
Place the turkey in a microwave-safe dish.
Cover with a lid and reheat for about 5 minutes, flipping sides halfway through.
When using the oven, preheat it to 350F.
Reheat the turkey for about 20 minutes, flipping sides at 10 minutes intervals.
Wrap your turkey in foil and place it on an oven-safe dish in the preheated oven.
First, thaw the leftover turkey before reheating it in the skillet.
Place on a large pan over low heat—cover to lock in the moisture.
Brush with some melted butter, reheat for about 10 minutes, and avoid burning or overcooking.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How long to cook a 20 lb turkey covered or uncovered?
Create a balance by baking both covered and uncovered.
Ideally, cover the turkey for most of the cooking time to trap in the moisture and allow even cooking.
Bake uncovered for the last 30 minutes to achieve a caramelized crisp exterior.
How long does it take a 20-pound turkey to thaw?
The first step is to place frozen turkey on a kitchen counter for 24 hours before reheating it in the microwave, oven, or skillet.
Alternatively, use a warm bath.
Heat some water in a large pot until it becomes warm, not boiling.
Place a container with the frozen turkey bags in the warm water bath.
The frozen items will defrost in about 4 hours.
How long to cook turkey depends on various factors, including thickness, size, and whether stuffed or unstuffed.
The general rule is to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 165F; that way, it’s safe for consumption.
If you want a crisp texture, bake on high heat for a brief time.
For tender, juicy meat, cook on low heat for longer.
Feel free to wow your friends and family this holiday with some turkey.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
- Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out.
- Roast the turkey about 2 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh.
- Slice the turkey and serve.