This Is How Long It Actually Takes to Cook the Perfect Turkey

As anyone who has experienced the pressure of cooking Thanksgiving's most important dish will know, there's an art to cooking a turkey to perfection. The delicate process has a number of rules: Thawing always takes longer than you'd expect; over-stuff and it'll take ages to cook; and leave it in the oven for minutes more than you'd intended and the meat will be too dry. 

If this is your first time cooking a turkey, Real Simple has devised one go-to chart that takes the guess work out of Thanksgiving cooking. The simple graphic breaks down turkey baking time into 10 categories, based on the bird's weight. It then suggests the optimal oven time and a few handy tips to make sure your first foray is a success. Follow these three handy hints and save the chart to make sure your turkey is the star of your Thanksgiving feast. 

  1. Cook stuffing outside the turkey: The USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of the turkey to "guarantee uniform doneness," Real Simple reports. 
  2. Check the internal temperature: A whole turkey is fully cooked when it has an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer to check. 
  3. Allow extra time for frozen turkeys: The frozen variety takes much longer to defrost thank you'd expect. Increase the cooking times below by at least 50% to ensure meat properly cooked the entire way through. 

Do you have any tips for making sure your turkey is cooked to perfection? Share them in the comments.