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How To Cook A Turkey For Thanksgiving — A Step by Step Guide

So it’s your first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and you aren’t quite sure how to cook a turkey. No worries, we have you covered. Let’s start out with making sure that your bird is thawed. How long should you thaw a turkey? It goes by how big it is. It can range from a couple of days, to about a week depending on size.

  • 8-12 pounds: 2 or 3 days
  • 13-16 Pounds: 3 or 4 days
  • 17-20 pounds: 4 or 5 days
  • 21-24 pounds: 5 or 6 days

Next is figuring out how long you need to cook your Turkey. Obviously the times vary, and it all depends on weight, and if you are stuffing it.These cook times are for turkey’s being cooked at 375 degrees.

  • 8lb Turkey – 2 3/4 hours (unstuffed) 3 hours (stuffed)
  • 12lb Turkey – 3 hours (unstuffed) 3 1/2 hours (stuffed)
  • 18lb Turkey – 4 1/4 hours (stuffed and unstuffed)
  • 24lb Turkey – 5 hours (unstuffed) 5 1/4 hours (stuffed)

Now keep in mind everyone has their own secrets when it comes to cooking the perfect turkey. One tip that we keep seeing is to start off with the bird wrapped in foil to lock in the juices at 425 for 20 minutes, and then dropping to a lower temperature to finish it off. Unfortunately most of those tips just say cook until done, so use your best judgement.

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