Do You Cook a Turkey at 325 or 350 F? At 325, Here is Why!

Whether the holiday season is around the corner or a big family get-together, the only bird everyone prefers to cook is Turkey! However, turkey is not only eaten at special events but all year around. 

The most asked question is, which is the right temperature to cook the juicy and savory turkey? 

Do you cook turkey at 325°F or 350°F? 

The ideal temperature to cook a nice juicy and tender turkey is 325°F. However, the general rule is to keep the meat’s internal temperature in check, no matter whether you cook it at 325 or 350 degrees. For getting a safe to eat turkey, the bird’s internal temperature should register at 165°F after carry over cooking is over. Thinking about cooking the turkey at 325 degrees and also getting confused with the carry over cooking?

Well, the answer is in this article. Give it a full read and you will cook your bird with full confidence.

In today’s blog, we’ll find everything about the right temperature to cook Turkey.

Moreover, I’ll answer the most frequently asked question that comes to your mind while cooking the bird. 

So, Let’s get it right away!

Do You Cook Turkey at 325 or 350?

I cook the turkey at 325 to make it more juicy. But before that, I never forget to preheat my oven first with a pizza stone at maximum possible temperature and keep the temperature as high as 425 degrees Fahrenheit for the first hour of cooking. 

The reason is turkey has two meat types: white and dark meat. Therefore, each meat type needs to register a different internal temperature.The turkey’s quarter legs part of the turkey needs to cook at a higher temperature than the delicate breast part.

How Can you Cook your Best Turkey at 325 Degrees Fahrenheit? Pro Tips

Besides preheating your oven at 500 degrees with a pizza stone, few more things are essential to help you roast your best turkey in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thaw your frozen turkey in the refrigerator properly.

How you thaw your turkey is extremely important. You need to thaw the large bird thoroughly to cook it evenly. So, put your frozen turkey in the refrigerator for 4-8 days depending on the size. For instance: 

  • 16 pounds turkey will take 4 days
  • 18-20 pound turkey can take 5-7 days 
  • And a large of 22 pounds can take 7-8 days to thaw.

Preheating the oven, roasting and baking stone is a game-changer.

You must place the pan on a preheated pizza stone. That will provide more heat to cook the thigh with more heat and thus the time gap between white meat and dark meat will be fully covered.

Don’t forget to cover the breast part with aluminum paper.

Once the lower part gets a kick-start heat from the preheat stone, you can remove the foil from the breast. Then reduce the temperature to 325 for the rest of the cooking time.

Cooking the bird at the right temperature prevents the bird from drying out. Plus, it turns out perfect each time; juicy. Also, slow cooking helps keep the nutrient and flavor of the food. 

How to Cook Perfect Turkey at 325°F? Perfect Beginners’ Recipe.

Here’s an ultimate guide to cooking the perfect holiday bird. However, remember that cooking time and oven temperature vary according to the size of a turkey and your recipe. 

It takes almost 20 minutes per pound to cook a turkey at 325 F. So, if you’re cooking 20 pounds of bird, you need 3 ½ or 4 hours to cook the turkey perfectly.

Make sure you take the turkey out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking.  

Let’s discuss each step one by one: 

Ingredients 

  • 16-20-pound Turkey
  • 1 Yellow Onion 
  • 2 Oranges 
  • Handful of Spring fresh sage and thyme 
  • ¾ pound butter (you can cut the quantity in half for a smaller bird)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple 

For Sage Butter

  • ½ pound salted butter (by using salted butter you don’t need to add salt to your bird)
  • 1 tbsp of fresh orange zest or ½ tbsp lemon peels 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sage chopped 

Step-by-Step Instructions 

1- Preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven by setting a pizza stone, and a shallow roasting pan in the mid rack for 30 minute at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The preheated stone and hot pan will raise the cooking temperature just under the thighs to help the dark meat cook faster and attain the required higher temperature of 175-180 degrees in the thighs compared to the 165 degrees for breast (white meat).

2- Season and stuff the thawed turkey.

Bring the turkey to room temperature by thawing it in the refrigerator. Remove the neck skin. Also, remove the giblets from the bird cavity (you can use them to make turkey gravy). 

Pat dry the turkey with a paper towel. Now carefully detach the legs from the skin by twisting them from the joint. Then slide your hand and create a nice space between the breast meat and the skin top. Be careful not to break the skin. 

Once you create a space, gently spread the sage butter inside the skin with your hand everywhere under the. Re-tie the legs again, so the turkey holds its shape back. If you break the skin holding the legs, use butcher twine to tie them back. 

Stuff the turkey with sage leaves, onions, apples, oranges, and fresh thyme.

Spread the ¾ pond of cold butter completely on the turkey like a thick blanket.

3- Put turkey in the oven and cook it.

Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh area. Make sure it does not touch the bone.  

Once your turkey is ready, take the preheated roasting pan out with the rack out of the oven. 

Cover the upper side of the turkey with aluminum paper and place it in the hot roasting pan by keeping the turkey breast side up. Be careful not to burn your hand. 

Place the turkey in the oven and reduce the temperature to 425 F, and cook for an hour. Keeping the temperature high in the first hour gives a nice cooking to the legs and thigh parts of the turkey while the delicate breast covered on foil cooks slowly. 

4- Remove the aluminum foil after 1 ½ hours and keep cooking.

After an hour and a half, remove the foil, reduce the oven temperature from 425 to 325 F, and cook for another 2 hours and start reading your instant meat thermometer to check if the temperature has reached 170 degrees in the thigh area and 155 degrees in the breast. 

Once you record the desired temperature, remove the turkey from the oven. And let the “carry over cooking” do the rest of the job for an hour during the rest period of an hour. 

170-155 degrees internal temperature? Carry over cooking? It’s confusing you, right? Let us make it clear. 

When you remove the meat or any thick food, from heat, the internal temperature keeps rising by 10-25 degrees for about 15 minutes to half an hour. It’s why you have to prevent your food like beef, turkey or salmon from overcooking it by keeping carry over cooking in mind. Therefore, for turkey to avoid over-drying it, we suggest you remove it earlier.

Let the turkey rest at room temperature for at least 45 minutes before carving to help the carryover cook, cook it to the perfection and the meat juices distribute evenly.

NOTE

  • Keep checking the temperature as you reach the final hour of the cooking time. For example, if you cook 20 pounds of turkey and the recipe’s temperature is 3 ½ to 4 hours, then the temperature at 2 ½ hours should be around 135. So, to cook a perfect turkey, monitor the temperature vigilantly.
  • You can alter the recipe e.g., seasoning or brining. Yet the key is to cook the turkey for the first 1.5 hour at a higher temperature of 450  and then at 325 F until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the thigh area. Remember to keep the top part covered with aluminum foil for an initial 1.5 hours.

What is the Best Temperature to Cook a Turkey? 

The ideal temperature to cook a turkey is 325°F, and the inner temperature to cook poultry meat is 165ºF. The meat will dry out if you cook it over 165°F.

The rule of thumb is to cook for 15 to 20 minutes at 325°F per pound. If you’re cooking over 1 pound, calculate 15 minutes per pound and add on time.

The time may vary depending on the size of the turkey and if it’s stuffed or unstuffed. 

How long does it take to cook unstuffed turkey at 325 degrees?

Unstuffed turkey is your way to go! Cooking your bird without stuffing usually takes less time. Plus, the meat turns out more tender and doesn’t dry out. 

The temperature remains 325°F; the time, however, will be different based on the weight of the turkey. Following the one-pound rule, here is the time chart based on the size of your bird. 

Cooking Time Weight 
1 1/2 – 2 ¼ hours10 pounds
3 hours 12 pounds
3 ½-4  hours 14 to 18 pounds
4 – 4 1/2 hours 18 – 20 pounds
4 ½-5  hours 20 – 24 pounds
5 hours 30 pounds

How long does it take to cook stuffed turkey at 325 degrees?

Some of you might prefer to cook your turkey stuffed with vegetables. While that is perfectly fine, you must adjust the time of cooking. 

Below is the time chart for cooking stuffed birds according to weight:

Cooking TimeWeight 
2-1/2 – 3 ½ hours 8 – 12 pounds 
3 ½ – 4 hours12 – 14 pounds
4 – 4 ½   hours 14 – 18 pounds 
4 ½ – 5  hours18- 20 pounds 

How do you Use a Food Thermometer when Cooking a Turkey?

The leg meat is the best way to check the temperature. Insert the instant read thermometer

probe  into the thickest part of the leg of the turkey. Make sure the thermometer doesn’t touch fat, bone, or gristle. 

The right time to use a thermometer is by the end of the cooking. Also, clean your thermometer properly before and after use.  

Why do you Cover Turkey with Aluminum Foil?

Covering your turkey with aluminum foil helps it to store moisture longer. Covering also allows the turkey to cook faster. 

You can use two ways to cover it with foil. Either wrap the whole turkey before placing it in the oven or make a tent over your turkey with aluminum foil. When you roast the bird without foil, it loses moisture and comes out rather bland. 

The foil acts as a lid for roasting; it traps the moistness and keeps steam. It makes the skin crisper without burning it. You can cover up only the breast instead of the whole bird. The breast cooks more rapidly than the rest, resulting in burns or darkening skin. 

Even if you’re cooking without foil, check if the skin is burning or getting red from some part, then cover that part with foil. Covering the bird will favor the exact cooking time. 

When cooking in the roaster, add a cup of water halfway through cooking and uncover the lid. Adding water helps the bird get steam slowly while cooking and makes the skin crisper. 

You may also apply cheesecloth soaked in butter to cover your turkey. However, cheesecloth is a little expensive, and you might create a mess using it better to use the foil. 

Which is the Best Way to Roast Turkey, Slow or Fast?

It is best to use a medium size turkey around 15-16 pounds to slow roast in the oven. Slow roast results in perfectly tender meat that starts to fall off the bone. Plus, it makes the skin a perfect golden brown. 

If you plan to slow cook, you need to cook the turkey for longer hours. For a 16 pound turkey, you might need 10 hours total at 200 F. So planning to serve it for dinner, make sure you toss it in the oven in the early morning. 

Should you Cook Heritage Turkey at 325 or 350?

It’s good to slow cook the heritage turkey at 325 degrees Fahrenheit after cooking it at 450 degrees for 1.2-2 hours, first. 

Indeed, heritage turkey contains a variety of traits of domestic birds that you won’t find in industrial turkey, besides being more flavorful. However, heritage turkey needs a bit of alternation in cooking and time to cook its sturdier meat. A standard heritage turkey weighs around 14 to 26 lbs. 

There is a different approach to cooking heritage birds to avoid meat toughness. According to farmers, the best way is to cook the turkey’s highest temperature of 450°F for about 2 hours on the 12-pound bird. 

Some people advise slow cooking heritage turkey. You must cook a 14 lbs turkey at 325°F for 4 hours. Slow cooking is recommended and backed because heritage birds do not have bacteria that need to kill at higher temperatures. 

Wrapping Up

To summarize, the oven temperature to cook turkey can be 325°F or 350°F; both work well. What matters most is the inner temperature of the turkey.  

You must probably cook the turkey on special occasions. The few tips and tricks mentioned in the blog will help you attain the best results. 

Happy Cooking!

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