roast holiday turkey  

Everyone has their favorite method for roasting turkey. In FoodDay this week we will present to you 5 different methods, one a day. To help you select which method to use, we have highlighted the appearance and advantage of each method.

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Defrosting a Turkey

Recommended Methods

There are two methods for defrosting turkey: refrigerator defrosting and cold water defrosting. Remember to keep your turkey cold while defrosting and cook it as soon as possible after defrosting.

Refrigerator Method

Place turkey or turkey parts on a tray in the refrigerator in their original packaging. Allow the following amount of defrosting time:

  • Whole Turkey—24 hours defrosting time for each 5 pounds
  • Turkey Breast—1 to 2 days
  • Turkey Parts—24 hours

Cold Water Method

Place turkey or turkey parts in their original packaging under cold water in a sink or deep pan. Change water as often as needed to keep it cold. Allow the following amount of defrosting time:

  • Whole Turkey—30 minutes defrosting time for each pound
  • Turkey Breast—4 to 8 hours
  • Turkey Parts—2 to 2-1/2 hours
Holiday Dinner Solutions

Situation: You only have one oven to cook all foods.

  • Plan menu to reserve oven space for turkey. Include stove top, microwave and refrigerator recipes.
  • Allow 30 minutes for turkey standing time and for carving. Bake extra stuffing and reheat side dishes during that time.
  • To avoid food safety problems, do not partially cook the turkey ahead of time.

Situation: Saving time by purchasing a roasted turkey to reheat

  • Compare roasting time. Reheating a purchased roasted turkey usually will not save time or oven space.
  • Generally, a roasted 12 to 14 pound turkey will take 2-1/4 to 2-3/4 hours to reheat at 325 degrees F.
  • Using a oven bag, a fresh 12 to 14 pound turkey roasts in 2 to 2-1/4 hours.
Oven Bag Method
turkey oven bag

This is the self-basting method of roasting turkey. The turkey cooks up tender and juicy in a Oven Bag with no messy cleanup.

Appearance—light golden brown with some variation in color. Skin is not as "crisp" as traditional foil tent roasted turkey.

Advantage—often preferred for the most juicy turkey.


How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shake 1 tablespoon flour in turkey-size (19" x 23-1/2") Oven Bag. Use large-size oven bag (14" x 20") for 8 to 12-pound turkeys or for turkey breast. Use small size (10" x 16") for boneless turkey breast. Leave flour in oven bag. This helps blend the fats and juices and protects against bursting. Place bag in roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. The pan should be large enough that the oven bag does not hang over sides and does not touch oven walls or oven racks.

Remove neck and giblets from both cavities of defrosted turkey. Rinse turkey, pat dry and brush with vegetable oil. Slice 1 onion and 2 stalks celery; place in oven bag. Place turkey, breast side up, in oven bag on top of vegetables. Close bag with nylon tie; cut six 1/2-inch slits in top of oven bag. Insert meat thermometer through slit in oven bag into inner thigh for whole turkey or into thickest part of breast for turkey breast.

Roast until meat thermometer reads 180 degrees to 185 degrees F for whole turkey or 170 degrees to 175 degrees F for turkey breast. For stuffed turkey, add 30 minutes to roasting time. The approximate roasting times are: 1-1/2 to 2 hours for 8 to 12 lb. turkey; 2-1/2 to 3 hours for a 16 to 20 lb. turkey; 3 to 3-1/2 hours for a 20 to 24 lb. turkey.

For easy slicing, let stand in oven bag 15 minutes after removing from oven. To open, carefully cut or slit top of oven bag. If turkey sticks to oven bag, gently loosen oven bag from turkey before opening oven bag.


Provided by The Reynolds Wrap Kitchens


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This page originally published as a FoodDay article (circa 1997).

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This page modified September 2007

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