How To Cook a Turkey
3. Cooking time will differ depending on whether the turkey was purchased fresh or frozen. Calculate approximate cooking time in a 350F (175C) oven based on the following: 20 minutes per pound for a defrosted turkey, and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for fresh.
4. A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. As an alternative, flavor may be added by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables and/or fruit -- carrots, celery, onions, apples, oranges, kumquats or garlic. Carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin will also add flavor.
5. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with vegetable or olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
6. For even roasting, it is best to truss the turkey, and especially so if roasting stuffed poultry. (See 'How to Truss a Turkey' below.)
7. Set the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan to promote maximum air and heat circulation and to ensure that it cooks evenly. To yield moister, juicier white meat, place the turkey 'breast-down' on the rack. This technique will prevent the turkey breast from overcooking and becoming dry.
8. Set the roasting pan on the lowest rack of the oven to keep the turkey away from the top, which is the hottest part of the oven.
9. Once the turkey is cooking in the oven, resist the temptation to 'peek' inside by opening the oven door. Opening and closing the oven door will cause the temperature to fluctuate, which will only increase the likelihood of a dry turkey. Avoid opening the oven door until approximately 45 minutes before the turkey expected to be done.
10. After checking for doneness (see 'When is the Turkey Done?' guidelines below), remove roasting pan from the oven, tent the turkey with foil and let it 'rest' for approximately 15 minutes before carving (see tips on 'How to Carve a Turkey' below). If additional time is needed to prepare gravy, heat up side dishes, etc., the turkey may be allowed to sit at room temperature (covered) for up to an hour without losing too much heat.
11. Refrigerate any leftover turkey within 2 to 3 hours of preparation. Store in airtight, shallow containers to allow adequate circulation of cool air; date and label the containers. Turkey may be safely stored refrigerated for approximately 5 days and frozen for up to 4 months.