Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Cooking Times

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Keep the bird in the oven for the right amount of time

Ahh, the age old question. How long should you cook your turkey? We all know there's nothing worse than a turkey that's been cooked too long. Unless it's a turkey that's under-cooked, of course. Don't worry, you don't have to worry about dry or under-done turkeys anymore because we have all the turkey cooking time tips you need.

Did you know that most people over-cook their turkeys by one whole hour? It sounds crazy, but it's true. People often over-cook turkey because they really want to make sure it's safe to eat. But your turkey can be both safe to eat and cooked for the perfect amount of time! Nobody wants to eat a dry, over-cooked turkey.

Your turkey should give you a list of cooking times; how long you cook it is based on how big the turkey is. Additionally, it matters whether or not your turkey is stuffed. For instance, here's what Butterball tells us:

Net Weight (in pounds and in hours)

* 10 to 18 lbs.: 3 to 3-1/2 hours, unstuffed; 3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours, stuffed
* 18 to 22 lbs.: 3-1/2 to 4 4-1/2 hours, unstuffed; to 4-1/2 to 5 hours, stuffed
* 22 to 24 lbs.: 4 to 4-1/2 hours, unstuffed; 5 to 5-1/2 hours, stuffed
* 24 to 30 lbs.: 4-1/2 to 5 hours, unstuffed; 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours, stuffed

You should be checking for doneness about 1/2 an hour before your turkey is supposed to be done. But how do you know if it's really done? It's actually quite simple. All you need to do is put a meat thermometer in your turkey before you put it in the oven! If the turkey is stuffed, place the thermometer tip inside the stuffed cavity. If it's not stuffed, put the tip of the meat thermometer in the thigh muscle just above and beyond the lower part of the thigh bone pointing toward the body. Don't let it actually hit the bone.

Your turkey will be done when your meat thermometer reads:

* 80 to 185 degrees F deep in the thigh; also, juices should be clear, not pink when thigh muscle is pierced deeply.
* 170 to 175 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast, just above the rib bones.
* 160 to 165 degrees F in the center of the stuffing, if turkey is stuffed.

As long as your thermometer reads these temperatures, your turkey is done. Don't keep cooking it! You should now have the perfectly-cooked turkey and will keep all your guests happy!

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