Preparation & Cooking

Roasting

Simply preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C) and use these cooking times to prepare roast turkey that’s moist, tender and delicious.

Weight Stuffed Unstuffed Barbecue – medium heat (unstuffed)
6-8 lbs (3.0 - 3.5 kg) 3 -3 ¼ hrs 2 ½ - 2 ¾ hrs 1 – 1 ¾ hrs
8-10 lbs (3.5 – 4.5 kg) 3 ¼ - 3 ½ hrs 2 ¾ - 3 hrs 1 ¼ - 2 hrs
10-12 lbs (4.5 – 5.5 kg) 3 ½ - 3 ¾ hrs 3 – 3 ¼ hrs 1 ½ - 2 ¼ hrs
12-16 lbs (5.5 – 7.0 kg) 3 ¾ - 4 hrs 3 ¼ - 3 ½ hrs 2 – 2 ¾ hrs
16 – 22 lbs (7.0 – 10.0 kg) 4 – 4 ½ hrs 3 ½ - 4 hrs 2 ½ - 3 ½ hrs

Turkey is fully cooked and safe to eat when the thermometer reads 170°F (77°C) for an unstuffed turkey and 180°F (82°C) for a stuffed turkey. When done, remove turkey from oven or barbecue. Cover it with foil and let stand 15 - 20 minutes before carving.

Roasting Whole Turkey Breasts

Turkey breasts are a popular choice today and a sensible alternative to roasting a whole turkey for a nutritious everyday meal item.

Whole breasts vary in weight from 1 ½ to 3 lbs (750 g – 1.5 kg) and are sold boneless, with or without skin, and whole, halved, or formed into a roast with netting around it.

A turkey breast weighing 2 lbs (1 kg) will take approximately 1 hour to cook. But because of the variation in sizes and shapes, it is always recommended to use a meat thermometer when roasting.

Prepare the turkey breast in a roasting pan as you would a whole turkey. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the centre of the thickest part of the meat. Cover loosely with foil and place in an oven preheated to 325°F (160°C). Cook until the meat thermometer registers 165°F - 170°F (73°C - 77°C).

When cooked to perfection, turkey meat will be moist and the juices will run clear. Your meat thermometer will give you the most accurate sign of doneness.

Roasting Turkey Thighs

For those who prefer dark meat, roasting turkey thighs is an ideal alternative to roasting a whole turkey.

Turkey thighs vary in weight from about ½ lb – 1 ¾ lbs (250 g – 850 g) and are sold either with bone and skin on, or boneless and skinless. Two boneless, skinless turkey thighs with a total weight of 2 lbs (1 kg) will take approximately 1 ½ - 1 ¾ hours to cook. Since all turkey thighs vary in size and shape, it is best to use a meat thermometer when roasting.

Prepare turkey thighs in a roasting pan or baking pan as you would a whole turkey. (Brush with oil or melted margarine if thighs are skinless). Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the centre of the thickest part of the thigh. Loosely tent with foil or cover with a lid. Cook at 325°F (160°C) until the meat thermometer registers 170°F (77°C).

Variation: Try cooking turkey thighs in a baking pan covered with your favorite baking sauce. Spaghetti sauce, sweet & sour sauce or barbecue sauce all work well. Use a meat thermometer, cover with a lid and bake until the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh registers 170°F (77°C).

Barbecuing

Use your barbecue to enjoy roast turkey that’s moist, tender, delicious and nutritious. Prepare turkey as you would if you were roasting in your oven, but do not stuff, as an uneven cooking temperature may not heat stuffing safely to the required temperature. An 8-12 lb turkey will take 2-3 hours to cook on the barbecue.

A Few Tips

  • Remove neck and giblets from thawed or fresh turkey and rinse inside and out
  • Place breast side up in a roasting pan and lightly brush with oil or melted margarine
  • Sprinkle outside and cavity with seasonings
  • Add ½ cup (125 mL) water to bottom of the pan and insert a meat thermometer into the thigh, being careful not to touch the bone
  • Place pan on grills preheated to medium and close lid. After 20-30 minutes, lower heat to medium-low and tent turkey with foil to prevent over-browning
  • Baste every 15 to 20 minutes. For barbecues with temperature settings, keep adjusted to 325° - 375°F (160° - 190°C)
  • Add more water to pan as needed
  • Cook until the internal temperature reaches 170°F (77°C)
  • Remove from barbecue and let sit for 20 minutes before carving

Rotisserie Grilling

Whole turkeys less than 12 lbs (5.5 kg) cook best on a spit. As previously recommended, prepare turkey as you would if you were roasting in your oven, but do not stuff as an uneven cooking temperature may not heat stuffing safely to the required temperature.

  • Season the cavity with herbs and lemon slices
  • Tie the wings securely to the body and legs to the tail
  • Insert the spit in front of the tail and through the bird so it is balanced and securely fastened
  • Insert a heat-resistant meat thermometer into the thigh, being careful not to touch the bone
  • Brush the skin with oil, or melted margarine
  • A foil drip pan under the turkey helps to control flare-ups. Add water to drip pan
  • Cook until the internal temperature reaches 170°F (77°C)
  • Remove from barbecue and let sit for 20 minutes before carving.
  • Remember, cooking temperature of barbecues vary depending on size, make, etc. Cool weather and windy or damp conditions may also affect cooking times
  • Unstuffed turkey is fully cooked and safe to eat when the meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh reads 170°F (77°C) When cooked to perfection, barbecued turkey meat may have a slightly pink tinge, but this is normal. The internal temperature of the meat, as shown on the meat thermometer, is the most reliable indication that the turkey is done.

Approximate Barbecue Times for Whole Turkey

Weight Time
8 – 10 lbs (3.5 – 4.5 kg) 1 ¼ - 2 hrs
10 – 12 lbs (4.5 – 5.5 kg) 1 ½ - 2 ¼ hrs
12 -16 lbs (5.5 – 7 kg) 2 – 2 ¾ hrs

Barbecuing Turkey Parts

Always start with a clean grill rack, bottom tray and drip pan. And, since turkey meat is lower in fat, it will stick to the grills unless you grease them, or spray with non-stick spray.

Gas grills must be preheated. All preheating and cooking should be done with the lid closed. When preheating, turn the burners to high and close the lid. Preheating usually takes 10 – 15 minutes and the grill temperature should be about 500°F (260°C). Lower the temperature to medium or 325° - 375°F (160° - 190°C).

Direct method: Direct grilling is similar to broiling, as food is cooked directly by the heat source. This method is best for cooking small turkey cuts that require 25 minutes or less cooking time (turkey burgers, breast tenderloins, and cutlets). Be sure to trim excess fat to prevent flare-ups.

Indirect method: Indirect grilling is similar to roasting, with circulating heat inside the closed grill cooking the food. It is achieved by turning off the burner directly beneath the food, while the burners on either side, or the opposite side of the food, are turned to the required heat setting (typically medium). If you have a grill with only one burner, place an aluminum pan under the rack, directly under the meat, to push the heat up and around. The indirect method is best for cooking large turkey pieces such as bone-in breast, bone-in thigh, drumsticks, and sausages.

Turkey Grilling Guidelines

Product Grill method/temp Grill time* Internal temperature
Turkey Tenderloins or Cutlets Direct/Medium 15 – 20 mins 170°F (77°C)
Drumsticks and Thighs Indirect/Medium Approx. 1 hr 170°F (77°C)
Turkey Breast Bone-in 4-7 lbs Indirect/Medium Approx. 1 ¾ hrs 170°F (77°C)
Turkey Burger Direct/Medium 5-6 minutes per side 165°F (73°C)
Turkey Sausages Indirect/Medium 18-22 mins 165°F (73°C)

*Times are approximate. Use a meat thermometer to gauge doneness.

Brining

Brining helps lock in moisture and adds tenderness and flavour to turkey. Brining should begin at least six hours prior to cooking, but 12 to 20 hours is ideal. Parts require less time; whole birds require more. Follow our five-step brining process and you’re on your way.

Step 1: Choose your turkey

Wings, drums, thighs and breast meat will cook quickly, but a 10 lb whole bird can take up to two hours on the barbecue or up to three hours in the oven. Do not use a self-basting or Kosher turkey for brining.

Step 2: Choose your container

Your turkey will need to be completely submersed in the brined solution. For parts, use either a covered container or a large zip-lock freezer bag. These bags are sturdy enough to handle most parts and the air can be squeezed out completely. To brine a whole turkey, use a large non-corrosive covered pot or a special brining bag. Make sure you have enough fridge space to accommodate your container.

Step 3: Brine solution – liquid

You’ll need about 1L of ice-cold water to cover a few parts and about 3L-4L to cover a 10-12 lb whole turkey. If you want to create your own “signature” brine, consider replacing some of the water with beer, juice or soft drink.

Step 4: Brine solution – salt

Typically, brine has enough salt in the liquid to float a raw egg. Don’t hesitate to cut back if you prefer less salt. Kosher salt or sea salt is recommended. Also, many grocers or kitchen stores sell unique, seasoned salt mixtures that can work well. Dissolve salts in a small quantity of hot water, then let cool before adding to the brining liquid. Use a ratio of 1 cup (240 mL) Kosher salt to 1 gallon (4.546L) liquid.

Step 5: Brine solution – aromatics and seasonings

Here’s where you add the flavour! Sweet, savoury or spicy – mix to your own taste. Try honey, maple syrup, molasses, or brown sugar to sweeten the brine. Fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, or mint add subtle flavours, while garlic, shallots, gingerroot, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and lemon or lime zest defines the brine. Smoky chipotle peppers, ancho chiles, jalapeno or spicy cayenne peppers ramp up the heat.

Once the solution has been prepared and the turkey submerged, cover and refrigerate for the desired length of time. When finished soaking, remove the turkey from the brine, and discard the brine. Thoroughly rinse under a slow stream of cool water and rub gently to release the salt. Pat the skin dry. Cook the turkey as usual – in the oven, on a rotisserie, or in the barbecue until temperature reaches 170°F (77°C).

Check out these great brining recipes.

Deep Frying

You’ll be amazed by the flavour and juiciness of the meat, and by the speed in which your turkey cooks when you deep-fry. Turkey deep fryers are available for purchase at most barbecue and hardware stores.

Tips on Preparation

  • For best results, choose a whole turkey weighing less than 14 lbs, or select turkey parts such as wings, thighs, and breasts
  • To begin, remove thawed or fresh turkey from outside wrapper, remove giblets and neck from the cavities, and rinse with cool water
  • If marinating or injecting, do so and place bird into a large clean bag or large non-corrosive pot and return to refrigerator for 4-24 hours

Tips on Oil

  • Canola oil is recommended because of its high smoke point and low allergy concerns, however peanut oil is also a popular option for deep-frying
  • To measure correct oil level, place turkey in an empty deep-fry vessel
  • Fill the vessel with water until it reaches about 2” above the turkey
  • Remove the turkey
  • Submerge a measuring stick into the water to measure height of water in the vessel and mark the measuring stick at the watermark
  • Dispose of water and thoroughly dry the vessel inside and out
  • Stand measuring stick upright in empty vessel and fill with oil to marked point

Important: Before cooking, ensure that the turkey is dry by patting with paper towel inside and out. Excess moisture on or in the turkey will cause the oil to splatter.

Tips on Deep-Frying

  • Preheat oil to 375°F (190°C). This may take 45 minutes – 1 hour. Use a candy or deep-frying thermometer to ensure accuracy. If the temperature is not high enough, the turkey will absorb more oil and may taste greasy. If the temperature is too high, the turkey may burn. Continue to monitor the temperature throughout the cooking process
  • Using oven mitts and a turkey basket or holder, CAREFULLY lower the turkey into the oil. The turkey should be totally immersed in the oil to ensure even cooking
  • Estimate 3 minutes per pound – a 10 lb turkey takes approximately 30 minutes to deep-fry. To check for doneness, remove turkey from oil, and insert a meat thermometer into the thigh. Optimum temperature is 170°F (77°C)
  • When cooked, remove your golden brown turkey from the oil, ensuring that the oil is drained from the cavity. Place on a rack and cover with foil. Let turkey stand for at least 20 minutes to allow it to finish cooking. This is a very important procedure, do not rush or skip. Your completed turkey will be tender and juicy.

10 Do’s and Don’ts of Deep-Frying

  • Do keep children and pets away from the deep fryer at all times.
  • Do always follow the instructions that came with your deep fryer.
  • Don’t stuff your turkey or use a pre-stuffed or pre-basted turkey.
  • Do thaw a frozen turkey completely before immersing in the oil. If still frozen, the oil can spill over the top and be dangerous.
  • Do be aware that the sides and handles of the fryer can become dangerously hot.
  • Don’t overfill the pot with oil in case it spills over and catches fire.
  • Do deep-frying outside on a level dirt or grassy area and never on wooden decks or inside a garage.
  • Don’t ever use water to extinguish a grease fire – have a fire extinguisher available.
  • Do allow oil to cool completely before disposing or storing.
  • Don’t store oil in the cooking pot.

Stuffing

  • 1 slice of bread yields approximately ½ cup (125 mL) of coarse bread crumbs or 1 cup (250 mL) of loosely packed ½ inch (1 cm) cubes
  • Allow ½ cup to ¾ cup (125 to 175 mL) of stuffing per 1 pound of turkey
  • Avoid packing the stuffing since it expands while cooking
  • Stuff the turkey just before roasting. Do not stuff the day before. Moistened stuffing does not keep well. If desired, ingredients may be prepared the day before and combined just before the turkey is to be stuffed
  • Do not stuff a fresh turkey before freezing
  • Remove leftover stuffing from turkey immediately and keep covered in the refrigerator. Use within 3 days. Reheat just enough stuffing for one meal
  • Cooking stuffing can be frozen up to 4 weeks. Heat without thawing (or thaw in refrigerator first); use at once.
  • Save cooking time… place stuffing in covered baking dish; cook during last half hour of the turkey roasting time
  • For an easy way to remove stuffing from the cavity, prepare the turkey for the oven. Line cavity with cheesecloth, leaving excess at the opening. Stuff the turkey as usual. After roasting, simply pull the cheesecloth out of the turkey and remove stuffing!

Newsletter Signup

Want the latest recipes, deals, and turkey facts delivered straight into your inbox? Submit your email to our subscriber list to keep updated!

Newsletter Envelope

Sign Up Now

Nutrition

Delicious Turkey

Visit our Nutrition Centre to discover how healthy turkey is for you.

Nutrition Centre >

Brochures

Folder Full of Resources

Print out your own full recipe booklets & more.

Visit Resources Now >