How Long Does a 17-Pound Turkey Cook For? A Comprehensive Guide to Thanksgiving Turkey Cooking Times

Thanksgiving is made possible by a number of factors, but the main focus of the celebration is one question: How long will it take to cook that turkey? Turkey meat is notoriously prone to overcooking and has frequently been mocked for appearing too dry. Apart from the inherent lean qualities of the meat, these enormous birds have sections that differ greatly in terms of shape, thickness, and density. These factors can make it tough (pun intended) to achieve a juicy interior and crispy, golden-brown skin. Sadly, not even the richest turkey gravy can save a bird that isn’t cooked properly.

But making a beautiful, delicious turkey is far from impossible. With this detailed guide, you’ll have plenty of time to concentrate on the side dishes—possibly everyone’s favorite aspect of the Thanksgiving dinner spread—rather than worrying too much about the main course.

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for family, friends, and…a perfectly cooked turkey. But wait, how long does a 17-pound turkey cook for? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a Thanksgiving newbie, this guide will help you achieve turkey nirvana.

First things first let’s talk turkey (pun intended). A 17-pound turkey is a pretty standard size, perfect for feeding a hungry crowd of 10-12 people. But before you preheat the oven, there are a few things you need to know:

1 The Magic of Dry Brining:

This is the secret weapon for a juicy flavorful turkey. Dry brining involves rubbing your bird with salt (and sometimes other spices) and letting it hang out in the fridge for 12-24 hours. This draws out moisture and seasons the meat from the inside out. Trust us it’s worth the extra step.

2. The Temperature Conundrum:

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to turkey temperature:

  • The Traditional Approach: Roast your turkey at 325°F for the entire cooking time. This is a foolproof method, but it can take a while.
  • The Two-Temperature Technique: Start your turkey at a higher temperature (425°F) for the first 30-45 minutes to get that crispy skin. Then, reduce the heat to 325°F and finish cooking. This method is faster and can result in a juicier bird.

3. The Thermometer Test:

No matter which temperature method you choose, the ultimate test for doneness is a meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding bone. The turkey is done when the temperature reaches 165°F.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:

How Long Does a 17-Pound Turkey Cook For?

  • Unstuffed: 3 hours 45 minutes to 4 hours 15 minutes (325°F)
  • Stuffed: 4 hours to 4 hours 15 minutes (325°F)
  • Two-temperature method: 2 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours (total cooking time)

Remember, these are just estimates. The actual cooking time can vary depending on your oven and the turkey itself. So, keep an eye on your bird and use the thermometer to ensure perfect results.

Bonus Tip: Let your turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful bird.

And there you have it! With this guide, you’re well on your way to mastering the art of Thanksgiving turkey. Now go forth and conquer, and may your turkey be the star of the show!

P.S. Don’t forget the gravy!

Before you preheat the oven…

There are a few preparations you should always do before roasting your bird, regardless of whether you decide to do it whole, spatchcocked, or sliced into pieces. These steps will help produce a turkey that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, even though they are not directly related to the cooking time. Buy the right size bird.

Choose a turkey that is just large enough to feed your Thanksgiving guests, unless you want to spend days eating leftovers. Selecting a smaller turkey will shorten the roasting time, freeing up the oven for pie and side dishes. (Read more: How Much Turkey Do You Need Per Person?)Don’t forget to defrost.

Always ensure a frozen turkey is fully thawed (in the refrigerator, please; about 24 hours per every 5 pounds) before attempting to cook it. A partially thawed turkey can seriously throw off roasting times—and without thawing, you won’t be able to remove the giblets. (Read more: How to Thaw a Turkey, Depending on How Much Time You Have via Epicurious.)Brine your bird.

Dry brining is key to moist, succulent meat. Regardless of the type of brine you select—a straightforward brine made of kosher salt, kosher salt and black pepper, or a specially blended spice blend—the salt in the mixture will extract water from the turkey. The salty juices will then be absorbed into the meat, carrying all that flavor with it. This step maximizes moisture content and ensures well-seasoned turkey. Additionally, a dry brine promotes skin-browning, prevents a stringy texture, and tenderizes the meat—all characteristics of a properly cooked turkey.

You may wonder, “What about a wet brine?” Dry brines are more efficient, quicker, and simpler than their liquid counterparts. Not to add, wet brines take up way too much refrigerator space (which is at a premium in the run-up to Thanksgiving) and can be a major mess if the liquid spills out.

Before roasting, make sure your dry-brined turkey has been in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days, uncovered. That might sound lengthy, but the brine needs time to work its way through the turkey’s big muscles. If you’re short on time, you can dry brine the turkey before it’s fully thawed. After allowing the bird’s exterior to soften for at least a day, season it and put it back in the refrigerator. Use your oven wisely.

Invest in an oven thermometer before the big day arrives to ensure your oven is calibrated. Next, while the bird is cooking, only open the oven door when absolutely necessary. If you peek too much, the temperature will drop and the turkey will need to bake for a longer period of time. These tips are important any time you use your oven, but especially when roasting a whole bird.

Removing the whole turkey from the oven before it’s done is the last, crucial step in cooking a turkey well. As you are undoubtedly aware, the USDA has set 165° as the ideal temperature for fully cooked poultry; however, dark meat is actually best served between 175° and 190°. To check the temperature of your turkey, use an instant-read thermometer. If the probe inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads approximately 150°, it’s a good idea to take the turkey out of the oven. The residual heat from the roast turkey will raise its internal temperature to the desired level while it rests (30 to 60 minutes is ideal), but not above

To catch any runoff juices, place your bird on a platter or a chopping board with a trough (save them for gravy) The turkey’s insulated heat will last surprisingly long, so there’s no need to tent it with aluminum foil. Plus, tenting can cause crispy skin to go limp.

How long do you cook a turkey per pound in the oven?


Is it better to cook a turkey at 325 or 350?

It’s better to cook a turkey at 350°F after preheating the oven to 450°F. This makes the skin crispier and ensures the turkey will get cooked evenly.

How long does it take to cook a 17 pound turkey without stuffing?

Cook Time
12 to 14 pounds
3 to 3¾ hours
8 to 9
14 to 18 pounds
3¾ to 4¼ hours
9 to 12
18 to 20 pounds
4¼ to 4½ hours
12 to 13
20 to 24 pounds
4½ to 5 hours
13 to 16

How long should a 17 lb turkey rest before carving?

First, allow your cooked turkey to sit for about 20 minutes before starting to carve. Beginning halfway up the breast, slice straight down with an even stroke. When the knife reaches the cut above the wing joint, the slice should fall free on its own.

How many adults will a 17 pound turkey feed?

How Much Turkey Per Person. The general rule is to plan for 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per guest.

How long do you cook a 10 pound turkey?

For 10 people, you’ll want a turkey between 10 and 15 pounds. If you want leftovers, go bigger. How long do you cook a turkey per pound? The standard rule of turkey roasting time says 13 minutes per pound for unstuffed birds and 15 minutes per pound for the stuffed ones. At what temperature should I cook turkey?

How long does a stuffed turkey take to cook?

A stuffed turkey cooks at a rate of 15 minutes per pound in a 350ºF oven. At this rate, a 6-pound turkey will take 90 minutes (or 1 1/2 hours). A 15-pound turkey will take 225 minutes (or 3 hours and 45 minutes). Be sure to check that both the stuffing and the turkey reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F to prevent food-borne illness.

How long does it take to cook a whole turkey?

A whole turkey can take anywhere from 1½–4+ hours to roast —the cooking time depends on the size of your turkey and the temperature of your oven. We’ve got two roasting methods for you to choose from—one for beginners and one that’s slightly more advanced. Don’t want to cook a whole turkey?

How long do you cook an unstuffed Turkey?

We recommend roasting turkey at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for13 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey. We’ve done the math for you — check out the chart below to determine both turkey cook times and estimated servings (with leftovers!). Follow this chart for turkey cooking times based on the size of your bird.

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