Let’s talk turkey! Here is everything you need to know about how to cook a 30 pound turkey. Whether it’s 12 pounds or twenty pounds, you can easily serve a beautiful bird with complete confidence.
Turkey is a healthy alternative to red meat. Low in calories and high in protein, turkey isn’t just for the holidays. Turkey’s versatility ensures that you will never get tired of this wonderful, tasty entree.
Fresh or frozen, the turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165℉ to kill harmful bacteria and prevent foodborne illnesses. Check the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh. Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey and the temperature of the oven.
Food experts have long advised that turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 180℉, but that has been modified in recent times to 165℉.
It has been proven that your bird will increase in temperature by up to ten degrees after it has been removed from the oven. In other words, it will continue to cook for up to fifteen or twenty minutes.
Safe Turkey Temperatures
Once you bring your turkey home, keep it cold! If frozen, put it in the freezer. Fresh turkey must be kept under refrigeration to prevent the chance of bacteria or salmonella. The danger zone temperature is between 40℉ and 140℉.
Thaw your frozen bird in the refrigerator for 24 hours per five pounds of turkey. For example, a thirty-pound turkey will need nearly a week to thaw! For quicker thawing, place turkey in a large bowl or pot, fill it with cold water, but never warm or hot. Change the water every half hour.
Once your turkey is thawed, remove it from the refrigerator one hour before roasting time and allow it to reach room temperature. The room temperature is from 68 to 72 degrees. Preheat the oven completely before placing the bird inside. Your goal is to achieve 140 degrees as quickly as possible. Avoid opening the oven door too much for basting or peeking because that will lower the temperature and require a longer cooking time.
Refrigerate leftovers promptly, and never leave the turkey out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. Wash your hands before and after handling raw poultry, but don’t wash your bird!
Contrary to popular belief, rinsing does not remove bacteria (only heat does that), and you will only spray germs all around the kitchen sink and counters. All areas that come in contact with raw turkey or chicken should be wiped down with a disinfectant like a cleaner with bleach.
How Long Should I Cook a 12# Turkey?
A good rule of thumb is to roast turkeys that weigh less than 14 pounds at 350℉ and bigger birds at 325℉. This allows ample time for the internal temperature to reach the safe zone of 165℉ without drying out the meat. Stuffed turkeys will take longer because the dressing must also reach 165℉.
1 Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2 Remove the bird from the refrigerator one hour before cooking time and allow it to come to room temperature.
3 Place the turkey in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 325, or 350, depending on the size. Set the timer so you won’t lose track of how long it’s been in. Cooking time should be 13 minutes per pound unstuffed or 15 minutes per pound stuffed. You may wish to cover the turkey loosely with a tent of aluminum foil.
4 Remove for the last half hour to allow the skin to get nice and crispy. Simply tear off a section of foil about 18” long and crease it longwise down the center like a little tent. Place on top of the turkey and place it in the oven.
5 Turkey is done when a meat thermometer measures 165 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh. Check the temperature at several places to ensure it is fully cooked. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. The bird will continue to cook for about ten more minutes after removing it from the oven.
To Stuff or Not to Stuff
Turkey dressing or stuffing tastes great when it is cooked inside the bird. But it will also take longer to finish and is kind of messy getting it in the bird beforehand as well as removing it after it is piping hot. A better solution might be cooking the dressing in a separate casserole dish.
If you do choose to stuff your bird, allow an additional 2 minutes per pound roasting time. Also, be sure to check the dressing temperature as well as the thighs.
Don’t forget to remove the giblets from the cavity of your turkey! Giblets are the edible organs of turkey, chicken, duck, and goose. The four main types are the neck, liver, heart, and gizzard. It isn’t really dangerous, and your bird, as well as the forgotten giblets, are probably still safe to eat unless any of them are wrapped in plastic or if it includes a gravy mix packet that could melt.
Should you accidentally stuff your bird with the giblets still inside, you could end up with a mess upon removing the stuffing later.
Giblets can be a tasty addition to your gravy or stuffing. Boil them in a saucepan with four cups of water for about an hour or until the liquid is reduced to three cups. Chop finely and add to dressing or gravy, or save them for soup or pasta to add flavor and protein.
Turkey Injection Recipe
Flavor injecting is a method to add flavor and moisture to your holiday turkey. Usually consisting of butter to which you will add seasonings such as sage, chives, onion, garlic, and even cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, and lemon. Flavor injecting can be done up to 36 hours before cooking the turkey but should be at least twelve hours before allowing the flavors to soak in.
The meat injector is a large syringe used to inject flavorful liquid in several spots around the turkey. They are available at some supermarkets, kitchen stores, and online. Always read and follow directions on the package.
Butter-based Poultry Injection Recipe
½ cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- Place all ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring frequently, until the butter melts.
- Remove from heat and cool for about 8 minutes until warm, not hot.
- Load into the injector and slowly inject about two teaspoons of the solution into about a dozen different spots, especially around the breast area, avoiding any natural openings in the bird.
This recipe is also good for basting, but make a new batch for that. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight if possible, to allow the flavors to saturate the meat. Be sure to use finely ground spices and seasoning to prevent clogging the injector. Always aim the syringe away from your face. Wash it with hot soapy water and rinse well. Squirt a few times to clear the needle, again aiming away from your face.
Brining your Turkey
Another tasty way to add moisture to your turkey is to soak it in brine. This method involves soaking the turkey for about eight hours in a salt and water mixture. The salt will change the texture of muscle tissue and allow it to absorb more water.
Be sure to rinse the bird thoroughly after brining it to prevent the gravy from becoming too salty. (This is the only time you should rinse a turkey) Brining should only be performed on fresh turkeys since frozen turkeys are usually injected with a sodium solution when you buy them.
Brine recipes can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Start with 8 cups of water and one cup of salt. If using kosher salt, you will need two cups. Kosher salt is finer and lighter than table salt and dissolves quickly. Add to this brown sugar, minced garlic, bay leaves, or orange peels. Season with red pepper flakes, sage, thyme, or rosemary leaves. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Cover and cool completely. Place raw turkey in a large pot and add brine solution to cover. Refrigerate for 16-24 hours. Submerge in cold fresh water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt. Remove and pat dry and cook as usual.
Brining and flavor injecting are not crucial to a flavorful turkey. They can add an extra chore to an already busy day, so don’t feel guilty if you forgo the mess and effort required for brining and injecting. If you don’t have a large pot, you can also use a turkey oven roasting bag instead.
You can cook a frozen turkey! Should you find yourself with a partially or completely frozen turkey, don’t despair. Cook as you normally would, but increase cooking time by 50%. You will have to take it back out of the oven to remove the giblets and gravy packet once it has cooked for a while. Take care because they will be hot. Use tongs or a long fork to prevent burns.
✔️ The first Thanksgiving probably did not even include turkey, but more likely ducks and geese.
✔️ 46 million turkeys are consumed each year on Thanksgiving, with Americans enjoying 1.4 billion pounds. The average weight of these delectable birds is 30 pounds.
✔️ A 30-pound turkey will yield enough meat to serve 25 people. Or 12 people with plenty of leftovers!
✔️ Turkey is a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals and is leaner than chicken. It is a healthy alternative to red meat and usually costs less. It’s not just for holidays anymore!
✔️ Leftovers can be made into sandwiches, soups, and casseroles. Cooked meat should be used within 3-4 days, while frozen turkey will last 4 to 6 months.