Roasting Turkey


  • Turkey is one of today’s best meat buys, nutritionally and economically.  The low fat content in turkey accounts for the little shrinkage in meat after roasting.  A defrosted whole turkey requires only a few minutes to prepare for roasting.  Follow these four simple steps to a beautiful golden brown, ready-to-carve, mouthwatering turkey!


1.  THAWING:  (If turkey is not frozen begin with Step 2)

   NEVER THAW TURKEY AT ROOM TEMPERATURE leave turkey in original package and follow one of these methods.


  Place wrapped frozen turkey on a pan in refrigerator.  Allow 5 hours per pound of turkey.  (A 20-pound turkey will take approximately 4 days to completely thaw.)

  Refrigerate or cook turkey immediately once thawed.  NEVER  refreeze uncooked turkey.


  Wash hands thoroughly with hot soapy water before and after handling raw turkey.  All materials used for storage, preparation and serving turkey must also be cleaned before and after use.  Remove plastic wrap from thawed turkey.  Remove giblets and neck from body cavity.  Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.


  Stuffing is most easily prepared separately and placed in a covered casserole dish to cook during the last hour of the turkey roasting time.  For those who prefer to stuff their turkey follow these directions.

  Prepare stuffing and spoon into body cavity just before roasting.  Do not pack stuffing – let it sit loosely in cavity to promote even cooking.

 Never stuff your turkey the day before it is roasted.  It takes too long to heat the centre of the chilled stuffing and food spoilage organisms could accumulate.


  Place turkey breast side up in roasting pan.  Brush with oil or melted margarine and sprinkle outside and cavity with your favorite seasoning.  Insert thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, but be careful not to let it touch the bone.

  Roast loosely covered with foil in a preheated 325 to 350 ºF (160 to 180 º C) oven.  If you choose to baste your turkey, limit the number of times you open and close your oven (once an hour is sufficient).  To brown skin further remove foil approximately 1 hour before done.


Insert thermometer into inner thigh, just above and not touching thighbone.


  The times below have been calculated on the principle of not basting the turkey once it has been put into the oven to roast.  Use these cooking times to prepare roast turkey that is moist, tender and delicious.







350 Deg. F

(170 Deg. C)




Medium Heat


Stuffed Unstuffed
6-8 lbs.(3.0–3.5 kg) 3-3 ¼hours 2 ½-2 ¾hours  
8-10 lbs.(3.5-4.5 kg) 3 ¼ -3 ½hours 2 ¾ -3hours 1 ½hours
10-12 lbs.(4.5-5.5 kg) 3 ½-3 ¾hours 3-3 ¼hours 1 ¾hours
12-16 lbs.(5.5-7.0 kg) 3 ¾-4hours 3 ¼-3 ½hours 2hours
16-20 lbs.(7.0-9.0 kgs) 4-4½ hours 3 ½-4 ½hours Not suggested
20-25 lbs.(9.0 kgs-11.25 kgs) 5-6 hours 4½-5 hours Not suggested

  Begin checking for doneness about one hour before the end of the recommended roasting time.


  • a meat thermometer in the inner thigh reads 180º F
  • (82 C) for a stuffed turkey.
  •   a meat thermometer in the inner thigh reads 170º F
  • (77 ºC)  for an unstuffed turkey.
  • when cooked to perfection the turkey meat and juices may have a slight pink tinge.  The temperature of the meat is the most important sign of doneness.
  • when the turkey is done remove it from the oven or barbecue.  Cover it with foil and let it stand for 15-20 minutes before carving.


 Grade A and Utility Grade whole birds are both of top quality.  The only difference between the two is that Grade A birds have a perfect appearance and utility birds may have a tear in the skin or may be missing part of a wing.

  • The minutes per kilogram (or the minutes per pound) needed to roast turkeys vary dramatically with the size of the bird.  For example, a stuffed turkey weighing 3-3.5 kilograms (6-8 pounds) takes 60 min per kilogram or 30 min per pound whereas; a stuffed turkey weighing 7-10 kilograms (16-22 pounds) takes only 30 min per kilogram or 15 minutes per pound. 
    • Turkey on the barbecue cooks in about half the time needed to roast in the oven.




    • Unstuffed turkeys cook more quickly than stuffed birds.





  • Did you know?  Zzzz?  Have you ever felt sleepy after eating turkey?  Turkey has one of the essential (dietary) amino acids called L-Tryptophan.  One of the first amino acids to appear as a supplement in the early marketing wave of exotic nutrients, it was billed as a natural sleep aid.  It is involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter.  Serotonin may reduce certain pain reactions and have a tranquilizing effect.  Or maybe you’re sleepy because your carbohydrate consumption was too high!




Fresh, unfrozen turkey should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, loosely covered with wax paper or in its original wrapping.






    • Fresh turkey should be cooked within 2 or 3 days of purchase.  Frozen turkeys can be kept frozen for up to 1 year.




    • Cooked turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.




  • Turkey labeled previously frozen must be kept refrigerated and used within 48 hours of purchase.














    • Always wash all equipment and utensils thoroughly after handling raw turkey to avoid bacteria transfer onto cooked meat.




    • Never partially cook your turkey one-day and continue cooking the next day.  (Food spoilage organisms accumulate quickly on partially cooked foods.)




    • An oven temperature of 325 to 350 Deg. F (160 to 180 Deg. C) is best for roasting turkey.  Higher temperatures may toughen the protein and cause shrinkage.  Temperatures lower than 300 Deg. F. (150 Deg. C) are not recommended.




    • Cooked turkey should never be left on the table or counter after carving for more than 2 hours!!!





  • Avoid leaving turkey (cooked or raw) in the ‘DANGER ZONE” – 40 Deg. F. (4 Deg. C) to 140 Deg. F. (60 Deg. C.)