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Photo: Jennifer Causey

Unsure about the cook time for your Thanksgiving centerpiece? We've got answers.  

Antara Sinha
November 20, 2017

You’ve got a beautifully prepped turkey—it was selected with care, brined the right way, and it's now ready to head into the oven—here’s how to make sure it bakes beautifully for a show-stopping Thanksgiving spread. Unsure how long you’re supposed to leave the bird in the oven? If you’re baking it at 325°F (the lowest temperature the USDA recommends), you’ll need to bake a 20-lb turkey in the oven for 4 to 5 hours if it’s unstuffed, and 4 ¼ to 5 ¼ hours if it’s stuffed. This isn’t a fail-safe though: You’ll still need to check on it periodically, and make sure to check that the internal temperature is at least 165°F, the minimum safe temperature according to the USDA, using a meat thermometer. Don't have a thermometer? You may want to go ahead and buy one before the big day, or borrow one from a guest who will be attending your feast. Using a meat thermometer is just about the best way to ensure your bird is cooked to perfection; that's why it's one of the three essential tools we recommend having at the ready for your Turkey Day cooking marathon. 


Note, you’ll want to double check on bake times depending on the size of your turkey—it can vary from anywhere from 1 ½ hours to 5 ½ hours based on how big your bird actually is. Worried about uneven baking, or drying out the breast meat? You may want to stick darker meat portions of the turkey back into the oven after presenting and carving the bird, just to ensure optimal doneness. 

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