How To Cook A Whole Turkey

Nothing says a family celebration like a whole roasted turkey. Here’s how to prepare and cook your turkey:

The safest way to thaw frozen turkey is either in the refrigerator or in cold water. For food safety reason, a turkey should never be thawed at room temperature as warmer temperatures are favourable to the growth of bacteria.

The refrigerator method of thawing a turkey is the safest because it keeps the meat cold until it is completely defrosted. The turkey should be placed on a tray on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Allow 5 hours of thawing time per pound (10 hours/kg).

For the cold water method, keep the turkey in its original wrapping and place it in a large container, cooler or roasting pan. Cover the turkey completely with cold water. Check the water temperature at least every two hours, adding ice to ensure the water temperature stays below 4oC. Allow 1 hour of thawing time per pound (2 hours/kg).

Once thawed, keep your turkey refrigerated and cook within 48 hours. Some products are meant to be cooked from frozen; always read your product label carefully.

Turkey Farmers of Saskatchewan recommend cooking a whole turkey to an internal temperature of 170°F (77°C) in the breast and 180°F (82°C) in the thigh. When roasting, any stuffing placed in the cavity of the bird should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). Let the bird stand for 20 minutes before carving.

More information on roasting a turkey

Approximate roasting time for a turkey at 325°F (160°C)
or barbequing at medium heat

Cooking times may vary depending on: the temperature of the bird going into the oven, the accuracy of the oven’s thermostat, how many times the oven door is opened during roasting, the type and size of the roasting pan used, and the size of the turkey in relation to the size of the oven.