The Perfect Roasting Time to Cook Your Christmas Turkey

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Christmas 2016 is fast approaching, with very little time left until the big day. You’ve got the gifts, done the wrapping, and trimmed the tree. Now, it’s time to prepare for cooking the perfect Christmas turkey.

To help you nail this Christmas staple, we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to ensure you pick the right turkey roasting time and ensure a safe and delicious holiday feast.

Unstuffed Turkeys

When roasting the perfect Christmas turkey, the decision to stuff or not to stuff can make a huge difference in the time it takes to properly cook. Going unstuffed cuts down on roasting time and allows you to get the turkey on the table faster.

Roasting the bird in a 350° F oven in a racked roasting pan can take anywhere between 3 and 5 hours to cook through, depending on the size of the bird. A 10-18 lb. turkey will need to roast for approximately 3 to 3.5 hours, while an 18-22 lb. turkey requires anywhere from 3.5 to 4 hours.

Larger turkeys, like a 22-24 lb. one, should roast for 4 to 4.5 hours, and a 24-29 lb. bird requires 4.5 to 5 hours of cook time.

Stuffed Turkeys

While it may take less time and be more convenient to roast an unstuffed turkey, you may have a tried and true recipe that calls for the bird to be cooked while stuffed. If this is the case, there are specific guidelines to follow to ensure every turkey is cooked through.

If your preferred method is to cook the turkey in an uncovered pan, using a foil tent over the breasts until the last hour of cooking, then your oven should be set at 325° F. Depending on the size of the turkey, it will take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours to roast properly.

A stuffed turkey that is between 8 and 12 lbs can serve under 10 people and should roast for about 3 to 3.5 hours. If you’re cooking for up to 20 people, you will need a 20-24 lb. turkey, which requires 4 hours and 45 minutes to 5 hours and 15 minutes to cook through.

Roasting time can be reduced if the temperature is increased to 425° F and the turkey is wrapped in heavy foil. This can change the average roasting time to anywhere between 2 hours and 45 minutes to 4 hours and 15 minutes, depending on the weight and size of your turkey. Check the USDA website for exact times.

Whether you’re planning to cook a stuffed or unstuffed turkey this Christmas, it is always important to ensure the readiness of the dish before serving. This can be done by placing a meat thermometer in the thickest area of the thigh. If the thermometer reads 165° F, the turkey is cooked through and safe for consumption.

Alternatively, you can cut into the thigh with a knife and judge the color of the juices. If they are clear, your turkey is done; however, keep in mind that this method is less exact than using a thermometer. Happy roasting!


“Stuffing and Food Safety,” USDA web site, August 2, 2013;!ut/p/a1/jZDBbsIwDIafhQeI7FJA44giIVqgFWKMLBcUrUmJBEmUhAF7-hW4wDS22ifL3ydbP3BgwI341LWI2hqxu8x8sMEFDpIhxbwcJmPMirdFOaUUX5b9Bnj_AyjSlv6TGuF_ft7iQNfP6bwG7kTcEm2UBVbLSIQJR-kDMGVtRYJQMp6JEh-RhK2UsVk4e9hFfybOSyf8NRNgIR6U0qZu_IrcqcDo6yYzlTzBGvjjW5g0nRXpsjfJixTL3k_gl9xuwPNg3H7FvmajCeqs8w3Zjlns/#27, last accessed December 19, 2016.

“Turkey Cooking Time Guide,” All Recipes web site,, last accessed December 19, 2016.