Can I Cook My Turkey on Low Overnight?

You’re in for another surprise if you were surprised to hear that you could roast a frozen turkey: you can do it while you sleep.

At a typical roasting temperature (around 325ºF), a large turkey can take upwards of four hours to roast. You’re looking at almost six hours when you factor in taking the bird out of the refrigerator beforehand to remove the chill, resting, and carving. If you aim to serve your turkey around lunchtime, this means starting things at 7 a. m. Don’t worry if the mere thought of it makes your blood pressure rise; there is a simpler solution: roast the turkey overnight.

While roasting a turkey while you sleep may seem like a strange idea at first, it actually makes a lot of sense. Cooked low and slow, turkey is tender, juicy, and pretty hard to mess up.

Absolutely! Cooking your turkey overnight on low heat is a fantastic way to ensure a juicy, flavorful bird without the stress of traditional roasting methods. Here’s a breakdown of how to do it:


  1. Preheat your oven to 170-180°F (77-82°C). If your oven doesn’t go this low, set it to its lowest temperature, ideally no higher than 200°F (93°C).
  2. Remove your turkey from the refrigerator and season it generously with salt and aromatics. You can also rub the skin with butter for added flavor and browning.
  3. Place a rack in a roasting pan and fill the pan with about a quart of water. This creates a moist environment for the turkey to cook in.
  4. Arrange the turkey breast-side up on the rack and wrap the pan tightly in aluminum foil. This helps trap the moisture and ensures even cooking.


  1. Place the wrapped turkey in the preheated oven and let it cook overnight, or for at least 9-11 hours. Don’t worry about basting; the low temperature and moisture will cook it gently.
  2. In the morning, remove the foil and check the turkey’s temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Your goal is an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) in the breast and 170-175°F (77-79°C) in the thigh.
  3. If the turkey isn’t quite there yet, continue roasting at the low temperature until it gets close to these numbers, around 155°F (68°C). Then, remove the pan from the oven and crank up the heat to 475°F (246°C).
  4. Once the oven is preheated, roast the turkey uncovered until the skin is browned and the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C) in the breast and 170-175°F (77-79°C) in the thigh. This usually takes about 15-30 minutes.
  5. Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before carving and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more succulent bird.


  • This method works best for turkeys between 16-20 pounds. Smaller turkeys may dry out if cooked for this long.
  • If you’re short on time, you can cook the turkey at a higher temperature for a shorter period. However, the low-and-slow method is ideal for achieving maximum tenderness and flavor.
  • For the freshest-tasting turkey, plan to serve your Thanksgiving meal around lunchtime.

Additional Resources:


  • Can I cook my turkey overnight on low in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can! Just follow the instructions for your specific slow cooker model. Generally, you’ll want to cook the turkey on low for 6-8 hours per pound.

  • Can I use this method for other meats?

Absolutely! This low-and-slow cooking method works well for various meats, including chicken, pork, and even beef. Just adjust the cooking time based on the size and type of meat.

  • What are the benefits of cooking turkey overnight on low?

This method offers several benefits:

  • Juicier turkey: The low temperature and moisture prevent the turkey from drying out.
  • More flavorful turkey: The slow cooking process allows the flavors to develop fully.
  • Less stress: You can set it and forget it, freeing up your time for other tasks.
  • More oven space: You can use your oven for other dishes while the turkey cooks.

Cooking your turkey overnight on low is a simple yet effective way to achieve a delicious and stress-free Thanksgiving meal. With a little planning and these helpful tips, you’ll be sure to impress your guests with a juicy, flavorful turkey that everyone will love.

How to Cook a Turkey Overnight

  • Set your oven’s temperature to somewhere between 170-180 degrees Fahrenheit when you start to consider going to bed. If the temperature in your oven does not go this low, use the coolest setting (200ºF is fine). Take the turkey out of the fridge, rub butter all over its exterior, and season it with salt and aromatics. Place a rack inside a roasting pan, add approximately one quarter of water to the pan, place the turkey breast-side up on the rack, and cover the entire pan with aluminum foil.
  • For as long as nine to eleven hours, roast the turkey while you sleep and get ready in the morning. It will cook gently due to the low temperature and moisture from the water, so don’t worry about basting.
  • Take the turkey’s temperature using an instant-read thermometer after removing the foil. A temperature of 160°F in the breast and 170–175°F in the thigh is your ultimate objective. Continue roasting at a low temperature until it approaches these values, approximately 155ºF. After taking the pan out of the oven, increase the temperature to 475ºF. After preheating, roast the turkey for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the skin has browned and the internal temperature of the breast and thighs is 160 to 175 degrees.
  • Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes.
  • Carve and serve!

We put a 14-pound turkey to the test, and it took 10-1/2 hours for the internal temperature to reach 155°F. The skin had to brown and the internal temperature had to reach 160°F after another 15 minutes. Keep in mind that smaller birds can become somewhat dry if cooked for an extended period of time. Additionally, they don’t require much time to roast at a traditional temperature, which negates the benefit of using this overnight method. This technique might make sense, however, if you’re roasting a turkey in the neighborhood of 16-20 pounds. For the most freshly-cooked bird possible, plan to tuck in to your Thanksgiving meal around lunchtime.

Can you cook a turkey overnight at 200 degrees?

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