Are you gearing up to roast a delectable turkey this holiday season? Then it’s crucial to know the ideal turkey cooking time for that perfectly juicy, tender bird. From Thanksgiving feasts to Christmas dinners, understanding the ins and outs of turkey cooking time can make all the difference between a succulent centerpiece and a dry disappointment. This complete guide on how long to cook a turkey by pound will help you deliver a moist and flavorful Thanksgiving turkey every time!

Roast turkey right from the oven with beautiful golden brown skin.

It’s no surprise that turkey is the star of holiday meals, from Thanksgiving to Christmas. That’s why it’s super important to get the cooking times right on your turkey recipes so you can let your holiday bird steal the show and not let your side dishes take all the credit! 

Whether it’s your first time cooking the main centerpiece or you’re refreshing your knowledge. In this post, we’ll break down factors affecting cooking times, show a cooking timetable, and answer some frequently asked questions about turkey cooking times! 

Factors Affecting Cooking Times

You’ve seen in on recipes before, “cook time will vary depending on size.” And that’s probably the biggest obstacle to mastering cooking a whole bird to a safe temperature every time. Whether cooking a turkey in the oven or mastering smoked turkey it on the grill, the size of the bird does matter and we’re breaking down why. 

Size of the turkey

The size of the bird and the temperature you’re cooking at are the 2 main factors for determining how long to cook a turkey. A turkey breast will cook faster than a whole turkey thats. A smaller bird will cook faster than a larger one and stuffed turkeys take longer than an unstuffed bird.

  • A general rule of thumb is 13 minutes for every pound of turkey at 350 degrees F.

Fresh turkey vs. frozen turkey.

  • A fully thawed turkey can take anywhere from 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours of cook time, depending on the size of the turkey.
  • A frozen turkey may take 1-4 days to thaw, depending on the size turkey you have, and you want to make sure you’re turkey is completely thawed before cooking. See our guide on How to Defrost a Turkey.
Roast turkey coming out of the oven with golden brown glistening skin.

Cooking Method (oven, smoker, etc.)

  • The cooking method you use to cook your turkey can also affect turkey cook times. 
  • For example, this Smoked Turkey with Stuffing takes around 5-7 hours as it’s slow-cooked at a lower temperature in the smoker. This Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey has a similar cooking time of 6 hours. 
  • On the other hand, roast turkey in the oven only takes 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours. 

Spatchcock Turkey vs. Whole Turkey

  • The way the turkey is cut can also affect how long it cooks. Cutting the turkey open, butterflying it, and laying it out flat is called spatchcocking. We break down How to Spatchcock a Turkey step-by-step which speeds up the overall cooking time.  
  • For example, this Spatchcock Turkey only takes 1 hour and 20 minutes, whereas this Oven Roasted Turkey takes around 2 1/2 -3 hours. 

Oven Temperature

The higher the oven temperature, the faster the turkey will cook, and vice versa. However, we recommend a lower temperature of 325-350 degrees F and a weight between 12 to 14 pounds for a perfectly cooked bird. 

Turkey Cooking Times for a 325-degree Oven

Pounds of turkeyCooking Times (Unstuffed)Cooking Times (Stuffed)
102 ½ – 3 Hours2 ¾ – 3 ½ Hours
113 – 3 ½ Hours3 ¾ – 4 ½ Hours
123 – 3 ½ Hours3 ¾ – 4 ½ Hours
133 – 3 ½ Hours3 ¾ – 4 ½ Hours
143 – 3 ½ Hours3 ¾ – 4 ½ Hours
153 – 3 ½ Hours3 ¾ – 4 ½ Hours
Always use a digital meat thermometer for the most accurate results.

🦃 How Long to Cook a Turkey Per Pound Chart

Infographic for turkey cooking times showing how long to cook a turkey per pound.

Our Favorite Turkey Recipes

Girl Carnivore Expert Tips

  • Always use a digital meat thermometer for the most accurate results.
  • With Steak temperature, we cook our steaks to 5 degrees under where we want the finished temperature after rested. Although the turkey’s temperature will continue to rise 5 to 10 degrees while it rests, the safe internal temperature is 165 degrees F, according to the USDA.
  • After you’ve pulled your bird from the oven, let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving it.

Whether cooking turkey for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas, these simple instructions will help you cook the perfect turkey every time!

Save this guide for later by clicking the ❤️ button on the recipe card. Did you know you can save all of your favorite recipes right to your own recipe index on GirlCarnivore to find them easier later on?

Have you spatchcocked a turkey? Do us a favor and rate the guide with the  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ and drop a comment to help out the next reader.

More helpful Turkey Guides

How to Thaw a Turkey Easily and Safely

Avoid turkey-thawing disasters! 🦃 Learn the best methods to safely and efficiently defrost your Thanksgiving turkey with our step-by-step guide.

How to Truss a Turkey

Learn how to truss a turkey for Thanksgiving with step-by-step instructions, photos, and video. Trussing keeps the turkey compact for even cooking – let us show you how.

Helpful FAQs


Yes! Let your turkey sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking to ensure even cooking. 


Yes! An unstuffed turkey will take slightly less time to cook than a stuffed turkey.

What is the ideal internal temperature for a perfectly juicy turkey?

165 degrees F for the thickest part of the breast and 170°F for the thickest part of the thigh. Use a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature. If you have a stuffed bird, the temperature of the stuffing should also be 165 degrees F. Remember, the temperature will continue to rise 5 to 10 degrees while the bird rests.
Once your turkey is done, it’s time to carve it up using our How to Carve a Turkey guide!

Does brining a turkey affect the cooking time?

Nope! Brining is simply a technique where you load up a thawed turkey with seasoning for a dry brine or submerge it in water for a wet brine. It doesn’t affect the cooking times, only the turkey meat and skin.


If you’re not using fresh turkey, you’ll need to factor in the thawing time for a frozen turkey into the total cooking time. Depending on the size turkey you bought, give at least 1-4 days for total thawing time. You can check out our How to Thaw a Turkey guide for more info.


We don’t recommend cooking a turkey over 15 pounds as they can take too long to come to a safe internal temperature and can dry out easily. 

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


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