The Ultimate Guide to Butterball Turkey Cooking Time Per Pound

When it comes to cooking a delicious Thanksgiving turkey, getting the cooking time right is crucial. Undercook it, and you risk serving undercooked, potentially unsafe meat. Overcook it, and you’ll end up with a dry, tough bird that no one wants to eat. That’s why knowing the Butterball turkey cooking time per pound is essential for achieving perfectly cooked, juicy, and flavorful results every time.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the world of Butterball turkey cooking times, exploring the recommended temperatures, cooking methods, and insider tips to help you master the art of turkey roasting. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time turkey cook, this article will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to impress your family and friends with a perfectly cooked Butterball turkey.

Understanding the Butterball Turkey Cooking Time Per Pound

According to the experts at Butterball, the general rule of thumb for cooking a whole turkey is:

  • Unstuffed Turkey: Cook at 325°F (163°C) for approximately 15 minutes per pound.
  • Stuffed Turkey: Cook at 325°F (163°C) for approximately 18-20 minutes per pound.

It’s important to note that these cooking times are estimates and can vary depending on factors such as the size of the turkey, the accuracy of your oven temperature, and whether the turkey is stuffed or unstuffed.

To ensure accurate cooking times, Butterball recommends using an oven-safe meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. The turkey is fully cooked when the thermometer reads 180°F (82°C) in the thickest part of the thigh and 165°F (74°C) in the stuffing (if stuffed).

Here’s a handy table to help you calculate the approximate cooking time for your Butterball turkey:

Turkey Weight (lbs) Unstuffed Cooking Time Stuffed Cooking Time
8-12 lbs 2-3 hours 2.5-3.5 hours
12-14 lbs 3-3.5 hours 3.5-4 hours
14-18 lbs 3.5-4.25 hours 4-4.5 hours
18-20 lbs 4.25-4.5 hours 4.5-5 hours
20-24 lbs 4.5-5 hours 5-5.5 hours

Remember, these are approximate cooking times, and it’s always best to use a meat thermometer to ensure your turkey is cooked to the recommended internal temperature.

The Importance of Proper Butterball Turkey Cook Temperature

While cooking time is crucial, the temperature at which you cook your Butterball turkey is equally important. The recommended cook temperature for a whole turkey, according to Butterball, is 325°F (163°C).

Cooking at a higher temperature may result in a dry, overcooked turkey, while a lower temperature can lead to an undercooked bird, which can be a food safety hazard. Maintaining a consistent oven temperature throughout the cooking process is key to achieving a perfectly cooked turkey.

To ensure your oven is at the correct temperature, consider investing in an oven thermometer. Oven temperatures can fluctuate, and an oven thermometer will help you monitor and adjust the temperature as needed.

How Do I Cook a Butterball Turkey?

Cooking a Butterball turkey is a straightforward process, but there are a few essential steps to follow:

  1. Thaw the Turkey: If your turkey is frozen, allow ample time for it to thaw completely in the refrigerator. A general rule of thumb is to allow 24 hours of thawing time for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.

  2. Prepare the Turkey: Remove the turkey from its packaging, and pat it dry with paper towels. Optionally, you can rub the turkey with butter, oil, or seasoning before cooking.

  3. Truss the Turkey: Trussing (tying the legs together) helps the turkey cook more evenly and prevents the legs from overcooking.

  4. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C) before placing the turkey inside.

  5. Cook the Turkey: Place the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. If stuffing the turkey, do so just before cooking. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the pan drippings or melted butter for added moisture and flavor.

  6. Check the Internal Temperature: Use an oven-safe meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. The turkey is fully cooked when the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180°F (82°C) and the stuffing (if used) reaches 165°F (74°C).

  7. Let the Turkey Rest: Once the turkey is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful turkey.

Butterball Turkey Cooking Tips and Tricks

To help you achieve the perfect Butterball turkey, here are some additional tips and tricks:

  • Brine the Turkey: Brining (soaking the turkey in a saltwater solution) can help keep the meat moist and flavorful. Butterball offers pre-brined turkeys, or you can brine your own turkey using a recipe.

  • Use a Roasting Rack: Cooking the turkey on a roasting rack allows hot air to circulate around the bird, promoting even cooking and preventing the bottom from becoming soggy.

  • Tent with Foil: If the turkey starts to brown too quickly, tent it with foil to prevent over-browning while allowing it to continue cooking.

  • Let It Rest: As mentioned earlier, allowing the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes after cooking is crucial for juicy, flavorful meat.

  • Carve Properly: Use a sharp carving knife and carve the turkey slices against the grain for the most tender results.

Butterball Turkey Cooking FAQs

Still have questions? Here are some frequently asked questions about Butterball turkey cooking times and temperatures:

Q: Can I cook my turkey at a higher temperature to speed up the cooking process?
A: It’s not recommended to cook your turkey at a temperature higher than 325°F (163°C). Higher temperatures can cause the outside to overcook while the inside remains undercooked.

Q: Can I stuff my turkey the night before?
A: For food safety reasons, it’s best to stuff your turkey just before cooking. The stuffing should reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure it’s fully cooked.

Q: Should I baste my turkey while it’s cooking?
A: Basting can help keep the turkey moist and add flavor, but it’s not strictly necessary. If you do baste, be sure to do so every 30 minutes and avoid opening the oven door too often, which can cause heat loss and uneven cooking.

Q: How do I know when my turkey is done?
A: The best way to determine if your turkey is fully cooked is to use an oven-safe meat thermometer. The turkey is done when the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180°F (82°C) and the stuffing (if used) reaches 165°F (74°C).

Q: Can I cook my turkey ahead of time and reheat it?
A: Yes, you can cook your turkey ahead of time and reheat it later. Butterball offers a “Make-Ahead Roasted Whole Turkey” recipe that allows you to cook the turkey, carve it, and then reheat it before serving.

By following the Butterball turkey cooking time per pound guidelines, maintaining the proper cook temperature, and utilizing the tips and tricks provided in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to serving a delicious, perfectly cooked Butterball turkey that will be the star of your holiday feast.

How to Roast a Turkey – Butterball

Leave a Comment