Roasting a Turkey

Let’s Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey

Fresh or Frozen?

Fresh Turkeys

  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
  • Keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.
  • Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly.

Frozen Turkeys

  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it.
  • Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however, cook within 1 year for best quality.
  • See “Thawing Your Turkey” for thawing instructions.

Frozen Pre-Stuffed Turkeys

USDA recommends only buying frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that display the USDA or State mark of inspection on the packaging. These turkeys are safe because they have been processed under controlled conditions. 

DO NOT THAW before cooking. Cook from the frozen state. Follow package directions for proper handling and cooking.

Allow 1¼ pounds of turkey per person.

Timetables for Turkey Roasting
(325 °F oven temperature)

Use the timetables below to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.

Unstuffed
4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours


Stuffed
4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours


It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.

Read more at this site:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey/index.asp

Cooking Turkey

Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday meals often involve the cooking of turkey.

Last year, the Food Safety and Inspection Service announced a change in the “Single Minimum Internal Temperature Established for Cooked Poultry”. The new recommendation for cooking turkey, chisken and other poultry is as follows:

Single Minimum Internal Temperature Established For Cooked Poultry

Congressional and Public Affairs
(202) 720-9113
Tara Balsley

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2006 – The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today advised consumers that cooking raw poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F will eliminate pathogens and viruses.

The single minimum internal temperature requirement of 165°F was recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF).

“The Committee was asked to determine a single minimum temperature for poultry at which consumers can be confident that pathogens and viruses will be destroyed,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond. “The recommendation is based on the best scientific data available and will serve as a foundation for our programs designed to reduce foodborne illness and protect public health.”

Scientific research indicates that foodborne pathogens and viruses, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and the avian influenza virus, are destroyed when poultry is cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. FSIS recommends the use of a food thermometer to monitor internal temperature. In addition, consumers should follow important tips for handling raw poultry. These tips can be summarized in three words–clean, separate and chill. Clean means to wash hands and surfaces often; separate means to keep raw meat and poultry apart from cooked foods; chill means to refrigerate or freeze foods promptly.

FSIS will use the NACMCF recommendation to further guide consumers in the preparation of poultry products to ensure microbiological safety. While the NACMCF has established 165°F as the minimum temperature at which bacteria and viruses will be destroyed, consumers, for reasons of personal preference, may choose to cook poultry to higher temperatures.

Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) 674-6854. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. “Ask Karen” is the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day to answer your questions at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/
Ask_Karen/index.asp#Question
.

The NACMCF was established in 1988 to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on public health issues relative to the safety and wholesomeness of the U.S. food supply. The Committee is comprised of 30 voting members with scientific expertise in the fields of epidemiology, food technology, microbiology, risk assessment, infectious disease, biostatistics and other related sciences.