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Roast Turkey

When buying turkeys under 12 pounds, allow ¾ pound per serving. For heavier turkeys (12 pounds and over), allow about ½ pound per serving.

Rub cavity of turkey lightly with salt if desired. Do not salt cavity if turkey is to be stuffed. Stuff turkey just before roasting—not ahead of time. Fill wishbone area with stuffing first. Fasten neck skin to back with skewer. Fold wings across back with tips touching. Fill body cavity lightly. (Do not pack—stuffing will expand while cooking.) Tuck drumsticks under band of skin at tail or tie together with heavy string, then tie to tail.

Place turkey, breast side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Brush with melted margarine or butter. Insert meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of inside thigh muscle and does not touch bone. Do not add water.

Roast uncovered in 325° oven. Follow Timetable (below) for approximate total cooking time. Place a tent of aluminum foil loosely over turkey when it begins to turn golden. When two-thirds done, cut band of skin or string holding legs.

This Timetable is based on chilled or completely thawed turkeys at a temperature of about 40° and placed in preheated ovens. Differences in the shape and tenderness of individual turkeys can also necessitate increasing or decreasing the cooking time slightly. For prestuffed turkeys, follow package directions very carefully; do not use Timetable. Whole birds should reach an internal temperature of 180° when done.

There is no substitute for a meat thermometer for determining the doneness of a turkey. Placed in the thigh muscle, it should register 180° when the turkey is done, and the drumstick should move easily when lifted or twisted. Roast until juices run clear (no pink should remain). If the turkey 1s stuffed, the point of the thermometer can be placed in the center of the stuffing and will register 165° when done.

When turkey is done, remove from oven and allow to stand about 20 minutes for easiest carving. As soon as possible after serving, remove every bit of stuffing from turkey. Cool stuffing, turkey meat and any gravy promptly; refrigerate separately. Use gravy or stuffing within 1 or 2 days; heat them thoroughly before serving. Serve cooked turkey meat within 2 or 3 days after roasting. If frozen, it can be kept up to 3 weeks.

For faster preparation and easier carving, try roasting a turkey breast.

Timetable for Roasting Turkey


Whole Turkey (unstuffed)
6 to 8 pounds2¼ to 3¼
8 to 12 pounds3 to 4
12 to 16 pounds4 to 5
16 to 20 pounds4½ to 5½
20 to 24 pounds5 to 6½

Whole Turkey (stuffed)
6 to 83 to 3½
8 to 123½ to 4½
12 to 164 to 5
16 to 204½ to 5½
20 to 245 to 6½

Turkey Breast
2 to 41½ to 2
3 to 51½ to 2½
5 to 72 to 2½


It is a quote. Betty Crocker’s New Christmas Cookbook 1993

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