A lot of people think that it is very hard to cook a full turkey but in reality it’s very simple and takes patience. The first question that most people have is: What size turkey will I need? The ratio is about 2 pounds per person you are serving; this year I am cooking a turkey for about 8 people so I am going to cook a 18-20 lb bird (just to be safe and to have enough for left overs).
The next question people ask is: How should I prepare the turkey for cooking? First you should remove the giblets from the inside (they are usually in a bag in the cavity of the bird). Rinse the turkey under cool water to clean it off and dry it off with paper towels on the inside and outside. It’s best to get a fresh turkey that isn’t frozen, but if you happen to have a frozen turkey make sure to defrost it in the fridge a couple of days in advance.
Another question that comes up is: How long should the turkey cook? Here is a chart to approximate cooking times but make sure to use a meat thermometer to check when it’s done (165° F at the center). Let the turkey cool for about 30 minutes after you take it out of the oven before carving.
Weight Time Oven Temp.
8-12 lbs 2.5-3 hours 325°
12-14 lbs 2.75-4 hours 325°
14-18 lbs 3.5-5 hours 325°
18-20 lbs 4 – 5 hours 325°
20-24 lbs 4- 5.5 hours 325°
The last question that comes up: Is it safe to cook the stuffing in the turkey? Cooking the stuffing in the turkey is perfectly safe if done correctly. Stuff the bird right before it goes into the oven. Stuffing should be cool and not packed too tightly. Any access stuffing cook in a separate baking dish in the oven after you pull out the bird.
Here are some photos from last year’s Thanksgiving on how I prepared the turkey: