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Monday, November 17, 2008

So, I needed some reminders on the whole baking-a-turkey thing...

Figuring out what size turkey to buy for your gang:
Figure out how many will be dining on your fabulous piece of poultry. Allow 1 lb per person for a regular frozen unstuffed turkey. You could go 1 1/4 lb if you want a good stock of leftovers.

Figuring out how long to turn this bird from arctic to thawed and ready to crisp:
Most frozen turkeys will need 3 to 4 days to thaw in your fridge (in their original wrapper on a tray - to catch any drippings). This would be based on something like an 18 lb turkey... the idea is that it takes around 5 hrs per pound of beautiful bird.
It is not recommended to thaw them at room temperature UNLESS you're doing a quick thaw using a cold water method... this is for all you last minute "Oh my gosh! I forgot to thaw the turkey!" people. This method requires filling your sink with cold water & thawing the still-wrapped turkey 30 minutes for every pound... and changing out the water frequently... like every 30 min or so. If you don't change the water, it will stay too chilled and it'll take longer to thaw.
Here's a chart taken from Global Gourmet for convenience:

Turkey Thawing Time in the Refrigerator (40 degrees F):
Approximately 24 hours per 5 pounds

Whole Turkey WeightThawing Time
8 to 12 lbs1 to 2 days
12 to 16 lbs2 to 3 days
16 to 20 lbs3 to 4 days
20 to 24 lbs4 to 5 days

Turkey Thawing Time in Cold Water:
Approximately 30 minutes per pound.
Change water every 1/2 hour.

Whole Turkey WeightThawing Time
8 to 12 lbs4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 lbs6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 lbs8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 lbs10 to 12 hours

Now that it's thawed, it's time to figure out how to give this bird a suntan - i.e. BAKE THE TURKEY:
For this, I'll just recap and add a link to RecipeTips.com where you'll find a very thorough long-winded version of turkey prep and baking instructions.
1. The bird is thawed. 2. Now give it a good rub-down with some olive oil and some seasoning... whatever you like. 3. Place it in your baking pan breast side up. 4. I like to bake mine covered (cover or foil) first and then uncover the last 30 min to an hour to give it that fantastic shiny golden tan crisp on the skin.
Cooking Times - from RecipeTips.com:

Approximate Roasting Times
(additional roasting times and techniques - cooking bags - on RecipeTips.com)

Whole Turkey Cooked at 325º

8 to 12 pounds

12 to 14 pounds

14 to 18 pounds18 to 20 pounds20 to 24 pounds24 to 30 pounds
Unstuffed2¾ to 3 hours 3 to 3¾ hours3¾ to 4¼ hours4¼ to 4½ hours4½ to 5 hours5 to 5¼ hours


3 to 3½ hours3½ to 4 hours4 to 4¼ hours4¼ to 4¾ hours4¾ to 5¼ hours5¼ to 6¼ hours


Anonymous,  November 17, 2008 at 8:13 AM  

Thankfully I do not have to tackle making a turkey yet. That is still moms job...lol but I know my day will come. Hope you have a great day!

Michael L November 17, 2008 at 9:19 AM  

I love helping dad cook the turkey. It's been our "job" for as long as I've been able to help out.

But you're missing a step...where's the stuffing???

Michelle "Picklewart" November 17, 2008 at 11:56 AM  

I usually cook my stuffing separate from the turkey... I've just heard too many stories of salmonella, etc. from actually STUFFING the turkey. I know people do it without issue, I'm just not brave enough to do it myself without any practice!

Melinda November 17, 2008 at 7:44 PM  

Thanks for stopping by!

Believe it or not I have only cooked a turkey a couple of times in my life. Both times I was fretting over how long to thaw and how long to cook. Thanks for this info, it will come in handy!

Kathryn Maberry November 20, 2008 at 5:12 PM  

My words of turkey-baking wisdom...don't forget to remove the giblets from inside the cavity. However, if you forget, it will cook anyway!

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