Between baking homemade pies, warming everyone's favorite holiday casseroles, and browning the dinner rolls, the battle for oven space on Turkey Day can be intense. To pull off the perfect feast, you have to have a detailed schedule, knowing exactly when the stuffing will go in and the mac and cheese will come out. And then there's the true hog of the oven: the ever-important turkey. Not only does it require lots of space to roast to juicy perfection, it requires plenty of time. But just how much time?

No matter if your Thanksgiving meal is served midday, early evening, or even late into the night, timing the preparation of your entire holiday menu ultimately depends on how long it will take to cook the turkey. Everyone knows, there's nothing worse than holding up a hungry crowd with the last, albeit most important, dish of the entire feast! Determining the cooking time depends on a few key factors, namely the size of the bird and whether it's stuffed or not. (Fans of brined turkeys will also want to factor in an extra day, which is what The Pioneer Woman likes to do.)

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Set yourself up for success this Thanksgiving Day by planning ahead. Whether you're sticking to a classic roasted turkey or want to try something a little different this year (like Ree Drummond's gussied up bacon-wrapped bird!), this helpful guide is here to make sure time is on your side. And no matter what, do like the pros and factor in resting time for your bird! Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes after cooking—and longer is even better!—so that the juices have time to redistribute for the juiciest meat possible.

Do you cook a turkey longer if it is stuffed?

Yes! A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook, as this means you'll need the very center of the stuffing to register 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer to ensure that it's cooked all the way through. (Conversely, an unstuffed bird also needs to reach 165 degrees, but the thermometer probe would be inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, taking care to not touch the bone, which would give an inaccurate reading.)

Overall, it's safer to cook stuffing in a separate baking dish—plus, a crusty top isn't possible when stuffed inside the bird—but this is the holiday to honor family traditions and personal preferences!

How long per pound do I cook my turkey?

Roasting times for the turkey will vary based on the size of the bird as well as whether it's stuffed or unstuffed. As a general rule of thumb, plan on roasting your turkey for 15 to 20 minutes per pound—though to prevent undercooking or overcooking the bird, a thermometer reading will be your best bet. The suggested cooking times below are for a turkey that's roasted at 325 degrees.


8 to 12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours

12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours

14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours

20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours


8 to 12 pounds: 3 to 3 1/2 hours

12 to 14 pounds: 3 1/2 to 4 hours

14 to 18 pounds: 4 to 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours

20 to 24 pounds 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

Is it better to cook a turkey at 325 degrees or 350 degrees?

It's not so much the specific oven temperature or roasting time that matters, but rather the final temperature reading on an instant-read thermometer, which is the best way to ensure that the turkey has been cooked all the way through.

Do you put water in the bottom of a roasting pan for turkey?

It depends. Are you adding vegetables, like onion, celery, and carrots, to the bottom of your roaster? If so, you'll want to add some liquid so the veggies don't scorch. Use about 1/2 cup of water, or white wine for more flavor. If your skipping the vegetables, there's no need to add any liquid to the bottom of your roasting pan.