If you're wondering the best way to cook a whole turkey, the best oven temperature, or what turkey cooking times should be to get a nice, juicy turkey - wonder no more! Learn how long to cook a 22-pound turkey at 325, and most importantly, the right internal temperature for a perfectly juicy turkey.
- What Size Turkey Do You Need?
- Should You Cook a Turkey at 325 or 350?
- Cooking Turkey at 325
- Cook Times Based On the Size of the Turkey
- Factors that Affect Cook Time
- Internal Temperature of Roasted Turkey (Breast and Thigh)
- How Long to Cook a 22-Pound Turkey at 325°F
- Brining Turkey
- Thawing Frozen Turkey
- Tips for Roasting Turkey
- Frequently Asked Questions
Though we may only prepare a large turkey a few times a year, a poorly roasted turkey can really dampen the mood. When cooking a large turkey, it's definitely not worth "winging" it!
Consider this your ultimate guide to cooking a 22 lb turkey at 325. But you can also use these tips and internal temperatures for any size turkey.
What Size Turkey Do You Need?
A good rule of thumb: 1 pound of turkey per person attending. Account for 1 ½ lbs of turkey per person to ensure each guest has leftovers to take home (for leftover turkey sliders).
- 5-person gathering: 7 ½ lb turkey
- 10-person gathering: 15 lb turkey
- 15-person gathering: 22 lb turkey (see tips below!)
- 20-person gathering: 2 (15-lb) turkeys
Note: we recommend choosing 2 small turkeys over one really large turkey because they cook faster and more evenly. If you're cooking for more than 15 people, opt for 2 turkeys.
Should You Cook a Turkey at 325 or 350?
While higher temperatures will cook a turkey faster, they'll also increase the chances that your bird will singe or even burn on the outside before the inside is cooked through.
Because of this, we like to roast the turkey at a lower temperature of 325.
Cooking Turkey at 325
For best results, start the turkey at a higher temperature for a short amount of time then decrease the oven temp and finish roasting at 325.
This is the technique we use in our cheesecloth turkey.
Cook Times Based On the Size of the Turkey
Here is a general overview of turkey cook times based on its size if you're roasting at 325°F. However, these are general guidelines. It's always best to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature for best results (see temperature guide below).
We also recommend using a 2-stage cooking process, like in our cheesecloth turkey. This is when you cook the turkey at a high temperature (425) for an hour, and then turn the temp down to 325 for the remainder of roasting.
- 10 to 12 pounds: 2 ½ to 3 hours
- 12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 ½ hours
- 14 to 16 pounds: 3 ½ to 4 hours
- 16 to 18 pounds: 4 to 41/2 hours
- 18 to 20 pounds: 4 ½ to 5 hours
- 20-22 pounds: 5 to 51/2 hours
Pro tip: If you're cooking a large bird, more than 22 pounds, we recommend opting for two smaller ones rather than one large one. Or even make a large one and airy fryer turkey breast for a bit more meat.
Factors that Affect Cook Time
Although the above cook times are a good starting point to give you an idea of how long to cook a 22 lb turkey, there are several factors that can affect that. Here are some of them. Because of this, the internal temperature of the turkey is always the best indicator of doneness.
- Stuffing the turkey: an unstuffed bird will cook faster than a stuffed bird. We recommend cooking your stuffing (aka dressing) outside of the turkey because it's safer and speeds up the turkey cooking.
- Bringing the turkey: similar to chicken wing brine, a brined turkey will cook slightly faster than an unbrined turkey. Always use a meat thermometer for best results.
- The size and shape of your roasting pan.
- Type of oven (convection or conventional) and its airflow.
- The exact shape and size of the bird.
- The temperature of your turkey when it goes in the oven.
Internal Temperature of Roasted Turkey (Breast and Thigh)
The most important factor to cooking turkey correctly isn't actually the right time, but the right temperature. According to the USDA, a safe temperature for turkey is when a food thermometer instantly reads 165°F in the thickest part of the breast. Always use an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness.
However, it also states that a turkey breast that reads 157°F for 50 seconds, rather than 165 instantly, is also safe. Because of this, pull the turkey out of the oven when it reaches 157°F in the thickest part of the breast meat. The temperature will hold that temp and even rise more because of carryover cooking.
Note that the dark thigh meat, needs higher temperatures for collagen to melt. Because of this, the temperature should reach 175-180°F in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching bone) when you remove it from the oven.
For the most tender turkey, pull the bird from the oven when it reaches these temperatures:
- Turkey breast: 157°F
- Turkey thigh: 175°F
How Long to Cook a 22-Pound Turkey at 325°F
Plan on 15-17 minutes of cooking time for each pound of an unstuffed turkey. Estimate 15 minutes if your turkey is brined because it cooks slightly faster.
As a good starting point, you can expect to cook a 22-pound turkey for 5 to 5 ½ hours at 325°F.
However, every bird and oven varies, so use the internal temperature for best results. Start checking the bird early (around 4 hours), without opening the oven too often. Or use an alarm thermometer probe to track the temperature.
Note: allow your whole bird to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours prior to roasting. Ideally, it will be somewhere around 30-35°F when it goes into the oven (keep it below the danger zone of 40°F). It will cook more evenly and quickly if you allow it to rest at room temperature.
Don't forget to let the turkey rest on a platter or cutting board to allow for carryover cooking and to let the bird reabsorb the juices.
Using a brine is going to make the turkey moist and give you golden skin. The kosher salt helps retain moisture while the sugar gives you a golden brown skin.
Here's a great wet brine and dry brine recipe. It will help you decide which one to use and how to make it. The biggest difference is that a wet brine works quicker (12-24 hours) while a dry brine takes longer (24-48 hours) to work its magic.
Thawing Frozen Turkey
When it comes to how long to cook a turkey, always keep thaw times in mind prior to roasting. The safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is to let it sit in the fridge. A good rule of thumb is 24 hours for every five pounds of turkey.
This means that a 20-pound turkey should be placed in your fridge 4 days before cooking and a 12-pound turkey should be placed in your fridge 2-3 days before cooking. For a 22-pound turkey, start thawing the bird in the fridge 4-5 days in advance. Put the entire bird turkey breast side up on a large sheet pan and place it in the fridge to thaw.
Tips for Roasting Turkey
- Choose the right size turkey. Estimate 1 lb per person or 1 ½ lbs per person for leftovers.
- Thaw the turkey. Give yourself enough time to thaw (3-4 days for a 22 lb turkey).
- Let it rest at room temp before roasting for even cooking.
- Use a dry brine or wet brine for more flavor.
- Skip the stuffing. Use a stuffing recipe (dressing) baked outside of the bird.
- Use a roasting rack for even cooking. If you don't have one, layer celery and carrots in the bottom and put the bird on top.
- Skip basting the bird, especially if you're using our cheesecloth turkey. It doesn't affect how juicy it is and opening the oven door can affect the cook time.
- Cook your turkey to the correct temperature. Pull it out of the oven when it reaches 157°F in the thickest part of the breast and 175°F in the thigh.
- Let it rest to finish carryover cooking and allow the juices to redistribute.
A 22-pound turkey might be the perfect size for your Thanksgiving turkey, but this size turkey may give you some leftovers!
If you have leftovers, store them in a plastic zip-top bag or airtight container. Leftover turkey is only good for 3-4 days so be sure to consume it quickly! If you need inspiration for leftover turkey, we love these mini leftover turkey sandwiches. We top them with a little bit of leftover cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes for a combo that is both, salty and sweet! They are delicious with whatever type of turkey meat you have left, including dark meat or white meat.
Frequently Asked Questions
While 350 is an okay temperature for roasting turkey, we recommend 325 for best results. A higher temperature increases the risk of drying out your turkey. If you're cooking a smaller bird and at a higher temperature, keep a close eye on the internal temperature of the turkey.
The amount of time to cook your turkey depends on how many pounds of turkey you are cooking and whether you are cooking a stuffed of unstuffed turkey. Smaller birds that are unstuffed will cook faster. As a general rule of thumb, unstuffed turkey takes 15 minutes per pound at 325°F and stuffed turkey takes 16-17 minutes per pound. However, always use a meat thermometer to cook a perfectly juicy turkey.
Leftover turkey is good for only 3-4 days so be sure to use up those leftovers quickly.
Turkey Side Dishes, Appetizers, and Desserts
From appetizers and salads to mashed potatoes and desserts, we've got you covered! Many of our side dishes are also dairy-free and/or gluten-free and can easily be made vegan, accommodating for all dietary preferences and allergens.
- Appetizers: These candied pecans are paleo, while these decadent sweet potato bites are gluten-free! Our crowd-favorite healthy cranberry meatballs are both, dairy-free and gluten-free.
- Salads: Our Thanksgiving salad with spiced vinaigrette is a great option for Vegan diets while our pear salad with goat cheese and candied pecans can accommodate those who are dairy-free and gluten-free.
- Side dishes: No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a turkey gravy for your mashed potatoes! It's also one of our family traditions to always have green bean casserole, and we love this one because it's vegan and gluten-free.
- Desserts: These vegan pumpkin cheesecake bars and healthy pumpkin cookies capture all of the flavors of fall. Have someone who doesn't enjoy pumpkin? Serve them this healthy apple crisp and top it with our vegan caramel sauce.
Need a Thanksgiving-inspired drink? Check out our 20 Best Thanksgiving Dinner Cocktails.