# Use the chart as a guide only; a meat thermometer is the only safe way to make sure your turkey is thoroughly cooked, but not overcooked.
# Figure one pound of uncooked turkey per person. For a turkey breast, allow 3/4 of a pound per dinner guest.
# Plan defrosting so that the bird is completely thawed no earlier than two days before cooking. Factory-packaged fresh birds will keep at 35°F until the sell-by date. Butcher-fresh turkeys should be used within a couple of days after purchase.
# Defrosting - Conventional method: Leave turkey in the original wrapper. Place on tray in refrigerator. Allow 24 hours for every 5 lbs.
Quick method: Leave turkey in its original wrapper. Place in a large pot, cover with cold water. Change cold water every 30 minutes. This will speed up defrosting to 30 minutes per pound -- 6 hours for a 12 lb. turkey.
# Preheat oven to 325°F. Place turkey breast side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. Cook until juices run clear and 180° is reached in the thigh (165°F in the center of stuffing). Let the bird stand 20 minutes before carving.
# Optional: Add a half cup of water or broth to the bottom of the pan, which prevents the drippings from sticking. Shield the turkey breast with a loose tent: Either for the first two hours or after the turkey breast looks golden brown.
# Basting: Not necessary and may prolong cooking (basting will only lubricate the skin, not make the meat any juicier at all).
# Time Table for Fresh or Completely Defrosted Turkey at 325°F.
8 to 12 2 hrs. 45 mins. to 3 hrs. 3 hrs. to 3 hrs. 30 mins.
12 to 14 3 hrs. to 3 hrs. 45 mins. 3 hrs. 30 mins. to 4 hrs.
14 to 18 3 hrs. 45 mins. to 4 hrs. 15 mins. 4 hrs. to 4 hrs. 15 mins.
18 to 20 4 hrs. 15 mins. to 4 hrs. 30 mins. 4 hrs. 15 mins. to 4 hrs. 45 mins.
20 to 24 4 hrs. 30 mins. to 5 hrs. 4 hrs. 45 mins. to 5 hrs. 15 mins.