How Long Do You Cook a Turkey at 400 Degrees? A Comprehensive Guide to Roasting the Perfect Bird

This Thanksgiving turkey recipe is so flavorful, juicy, and tender with a golden, crispy skin that it’s practically foolproof. With my step-by-step tutorial, even first time cooks can pull this roast turkey recipe off stress-free!.

This juicy turkey recipe isn’t complicated at all. There’s no brining, no basting, no weird cooking techniques. Just simple instructions to give you great results every time while your bird roasts stress-free.

Your holiday meal is about to get a whole lot easier with the help of this post, which contains a ton of helpful hints and step-by-step instructions for the most delicious, incredibly juicy, stress-free, and perfectly tender Thanksgiving turkey recipe ever!

Ah, the majestic turkey. The centerpiece of Thanksgiving feasts, the symbol of family gatherings, and the source of endless culinary debate. But amidst the excitement and anticipation, one question looms large: how long do you cook a turkey at 400 degrees? Fear not, fellow foodies, for this guide will unravel the mysteries of turkey roasting, ensuring a succulent, golden-brown bird that will leave your guests in awe.

The Art of Roasting:

Roasting a turkey is an art form, a delicate dance between time, temperature, and technique. While the 400-degree mark is a popular starting point, the actual cooking time depends on several factors, including the bird’s weight, your oven’s quirks, and your desired level of doneness.

Unveiling the Secrets:

To help you navigate this culinary journey, we’ve compiled a treasure trove of tips and tricks from two trusted sources: eHow and Fearless Fresh. These culinary experts have generously shared their wisdom, guiding you towards a perfectly roasted masterpiece.

eHow’s Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Preparation is Key: Begin by removing the giblets and neck from your turkey. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Flavorful Touches: Add carrots, lemon juice, or salt to the turkey’s cavity for a burst of flavor. Tie the legs together with string or skewers.
  3. Stuffing Delights: If desired, stuff the neck portion with parsley and secure it with string or skewers.
  4. Rub-a-Dub-Dub: Massage the turkey with melted butter or olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Roasting Rack Magic: Place the turkey, breast-down, on a rack positioned over a roasting pan to catch those delicious juices.
  6. Time for the Oven: Consult the packaging for specific cooking instructions. Generally, a 15-minute-per-pound rule applies. Start at 400 degrees for the first half hour, then reduce heat to 350 degrees for the next two hours. Finish with 225 degrees for the final hour and a half.
  7. Rest and Relaxation: Once out of the oven, let the turkey rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more succulent bird.

Fearless Fresh’s Pro Tips:

  1. Brining for Flavor: Brining your turkey, either dry or wet, enhances its flavor and keeps it moist.
  2. Thawing Time: Allow ample time for thawing your frozen turkey in the refrigerator.
  3. Oven Temperature Accuracy: Invest in an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is actually at the desired temperature.
  4. Rotating for Evenness: Rotate your turkey every hour for even cooking.
  5. Probe Thermometer Precision: Use a probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey. Aim for an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, as the bird will continue cooking after removal from the oven.
  6. Resting for Juicy Perfection: Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes after cooking to allow the juices to settle.
  7. Crispy Skin Secrets: Roasting at 400 degrees Fahrenheit ensures crispy skin.
  8. Stuffing Safety: Stuffing should be cooked separately to avoid foodborne illness.
  9. Roasting Rack Elevation: Elevate your turkey on a roasting rack for even cooking and crispy skin.
  10. Don’t Overcrowd the Oven: Avoid overcrowding the oven with other dishes, as this can affect cooking times and temperature distribution.

Additional Resources:

With these tips and tricks in your culinary arsenal, you’re well on your way to roasting a turkey that will be the envy of the Thanksgiving table. Remember, patience and attention to detail are key. So, relax, enjoy the process, and savor the delicious rewards of your labor. Happy roasting!

Make Ahead, Storage, and Freezing

Prepare Ahead: You can prepare your turkey for roasting up to 24 hours in advance once it has completely thawed. Add the butter, seasoning, and aromatics, then cover loosely with foil and place in the fridge overnight. Allow it to come to room temperature by taking it out about half an hour before placing it in the oven.

Storage: Put leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag if you won’t be using them for three to four days. Use for sandwiches, BLT Turkey Wraps, tacos, and Turkey Soup.

Freezing: I adore turkey leftovers because I can store some in my freezer and quickly use them in soups or Turkey Shepherd’s Pie.

Reheating: You can use the microwave to simply reheat a plate of leftovers from a late-night Thanksgiving meal. If it’s frozen, thaw it overnight in the fridge before adding to other recipes.

How To Prep A Turkey For Roasting

Remove from packaging and remove extra parts. Remove the fully thawed turkey from its packaging. I usually do this in a large container in the kitchen sink. If included, remove the neck and the bag containing the gizzards and giblets. Keep these for making extra stock for the Homemade Turkey Gravy or discard them.

Dry the skin. Pat the skin dry with paper towels. Dry skin equals crispy skin!

Separate the skin from the breast. Starting from the side nearest the legs, carefully remove the skin from the turkey breast with clean hands. Slide your hand underneath, separating the skin from the breast meat. Repeat the process with the other side.

how long do you cook a turkey at 400 degrees

Add butter under the skin. Using your fingers, spread three pats of butter (1 pat = 1 tablespoon) beneath the skin on each side.

how long do you cook a turkey at 400 degrees

Add seasoning and aromatics. Mix together the dry rub, sprinkle it all over the outside of the turkey, and press it into the skin. Sprinkle a little inside the cavity, too. Place the onions and garlic inside the cavity, then transfer the whole bird to a roasting pan with a rack.

how long do you cook a turkey at 400 degrees

These instructions are for how to cook a 12 pound turkey in the oven. Depending on the size of your bird, you must modify the cooking time according to the guidelines given. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full instructions, or check out the handy chart below.

  • Preheat your oven. To achieve crispy skin, we first preheat the oven to 325°F. Depending on the size of the meat, we keep it low and slow for two hours to make it moist and tender. Afterward, we increase the temperature to 400°F for the final hour.
  • Cover. Trim a length of foil that will fit over the turkey breasts. Mold the foil to the shape of the breasts by pressing it down. This will keep the breasts from drying out. To brown the skin, remove it before the turkey is done cooking.
  • Using the chart below, roast the turkey at 325°F for two hours, adjusting the cooking time based on its size. After that, increase the temperature to 400°F, take off the foil, and roast the turkey until it reaches the ideal temperature. Use our handy guide below to adjust the time. (Make sure to save this chart for later by pinning it!)
  • Let the turkey rest. After taking the turkey out of the oven, give it time to rest—at least 15 to 20 minutes, but preferably 40. You’ll have plenty of time to warm up some dinner rolls or prepare a sweet potato casserole.

how long do you cook a turkey at 400 degrees

how long do you cook a turkey at 400 degrees

A pound of turkey per person will feed your guests and leave them satisfied. But if you want leftovers, I recommend 1. 5-2 pounds per adult and about half a pound per child. I personally think leftovers are awesome, because you can make Turkey Tetrazzini or Turkey and Stuffing Casserole.

A 12 pound turkey takes about 3 hours to cook. Start at 325℉ for 2 hours, then increase the temperature to 400℉ for another hour. For a larger bird, increase the initial cooking time (at 325℉) by 15 minutes per pound.

Putting pats of butter under the skin not only results in a beautifully crisp skin but also melts and keeps the meat incredibly juicy and moist, making butter one of the best tips we have for keeping your cooked turkey juicy and moist. To help retain moisture and disperse some of the heat, I also cover the turkey breasts with aluminum foil. This method allows the breast to cook gently while the thighs and legs finish roasting because dark meat takes longer to cook than light meat.

A turkey should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165℉. Insert an instant-read meat thermometer in the base of the breast meat or the thickest part of the thigh, careful not to touch any bone. Those are the absolute basics. The actual length of time it takes to reach the correct temperature will depend on the temperature of the bird before cooking, its size, and your oven temperature.

how long do you cook a turkey at 400 degrees

We’ve compiled all of the questions we receive each year regarding cooking a turkey in one location. Hopefully, these helpful hints will take the guesswork out of cooking your turkey!.

  • Resist the urge to wash your turkey. Washing poultry will only contaminate your sink, so avoid doing it. Remove from the packaging and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Is it really necessary to skip the brining and basting steps in order to have the ideal roast turkey? When basting, you have to keep opening your oven, which wastes heat and prolongs the cooking time. Brining isn’t necessary with a high-quality turkey.
  • Don’t cook inside of your turkey. If the stuffing inside your turkey is cooked before it reaches a safe temperature to eat, the meat will become dry. Instead, stuff the turkey with flavor-enhancing aromatics like celery, onions, garlic, herbs, or lemons. These will enhance the flavor of the bird and the pan gravy drippings. Prepare the stuffing in a baking dish, such as my Bacon and Onion Stuffing or Classic Sausage Stuffing Recipe.
  • Save the turkey drippings. The gravy is made from the drippings, and the flavor goes very well with

how long do you cook a turkey at 400 degrees

What happens if you cook a turkey at 400 degrees?

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