How to Tell When Your Turkey Is Done

Use a meat thermometer to make sure your turkey is cooked completely

Roasted Turkey

It’s Thanksgiving turkey time, and you’re getting geared up to take on the task of cooking the turkey once again. Last year you overcooked it, and you don’t want to mess up again this time around. So, how do you know when your turkey is actually done?

The most accurate way to check for doneness is with a meat thermometer. The thermometer should register just a couple of degrees below 165 degrees, which is the safe temperature for poultry to be served, and it should be taken in the thickest part of the thigh or in the center of a stuffed bird. If you don’t have a meat thermometer you can cut into the joint between the thigh and the body to see if the meat near the bone is still pink or not. (It shouldn’t be pink when it’s done.) The reason you want to take the bird out right before it reaches 165 degrees is because once you have removed your turkey from the oven it will continue to cook and the internal temperature will rise a few degrees.

You can also determine doneness according to approximate cooking time. The suggested cook time is 20 minutes per pound for a defrosted turkey, and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for a fresh turkey. And don’t be fooled by a crisp skin. Color and crispness do not tell you anything about the doneness of your bird. Refer to the chart here for average cooking times, and remember to use your meat thermometer if you have one. 


For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal's Guide to Thanksgiving!