By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia
“Over the years people have come up with all types of strange tactics they think will make a better turkey, like cooking it in a brown paper bag,” said University of Georgia Cooperative Extension food safety expert Judy Harrison. “We don’t recommend it.”
She offers these tips for oven roasting:
RoastedMany factors can affect the roasting time of a whole turkey, she said. For example, a turkey in a dark roasting pan with a lid or in a cooking bag will cook faster. A foil tent over the turkey can slow cooking.
In general, an unstuffed turkey weighing between 14 pounds to 18 pounds takes 3 and three-quarters hours to 4 and a quarter hours to cook. One weighing 20 pounds to 24 pounds, unstuffed, takes as long as 5 hours.
A stuffed turkey that weighs between 14 pounds and 18 pounds takes about 4 hours to cook. One weighing between 18 pounds and 20 pounds takes 45 minutes longer.
It’s OK to cook a frozen turkey, but it takes at least 50 percent longer to cook than a thawed one.
“For optimum safety, we don’t recommend stuffing a turkey,” she said. “For more even cooking, we recommend you cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole dish. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F.”
For more cooking methods, contact the local UGA Extension office at 1-800-Ask-UGA1. Or, call the federal Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.
(Faith Peppers is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)