Once you've mastered preparing a golden-brown, crispy-skinned roasted turkey, it might seem strange to try to fix what's not broken. Unless time is an issue, that is. If you're lucky enough to own a convection oven, you can roast that same turkey in a fraction of the time. With a few tried-and-true turkey roasting tips, you'll have your Thanksgiving bird dressed and ready in no time.
Roasting Times and Temperatures
It's the question every first-time Thanksgiving host (and seasoned host) punches into their Google bar: how on earth are you supposed to cook a turkey?
Turkey cooked in a convection oven should be roasted at 325°F. If using a dark roasting pan or oven-roasting bag, reduce the heat to 300°F. The following general roasting times and temperatures are suggested for various-sized stuffed and unstuffed whole turkeys, breasts, and dark meat.
|Type of Turkey||Weight||Cook Time at 325°-350° F|
|Stuffed Whole||6 - 10 lbs||1¾ - 2½ hours|
|Stuffed Whole||10 -18 lbs||2½ - 3¼ hours|
|Stuffed Whole||18- 22 lbs||3¼ - 3¾ hours|
|Stuffed Whole||22 - 24 lbs||3¾ - 4¼ hours|
|Unstuffed Whole||6 - 10 lbs||1½ - 2 hours|
|Unstuffed Whole||10 -18 lbs||2 - 2½ hours|
|Unstuffed Whole||18 - 22 lbs||2½ - 3 hours|
|Unstuffed Whole||22 - 24 lbs||3 - 3½ hours|
|Stuffed Whole Breast||3 - 5.5 lbs||1¾ - 2½ hours|
|Stuffed Whole Breast||5.5 - 9 lbs||2½ - 3¼ hours|
|Unstuffed Whole Breast||3 - 5.5 lbs||1½ - 2 hours|
|Unstuffed Whole Breast||5.5 - 9 lbs||2 - 2½ hours|
|Leg, Thigh, Wings||-||1½ - 2 hours|
If you want a crispy-skinned turkey, start by preheating your oven to 425°F. Once your turkey is in, drop the temperature to 300°-350°F to keep your bird from drying out.
Stuffed Whole Turkey
You're going for the ultimate traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a stuffed whole turkey as the star. Use these roasting guidelines for a successful turkey-cooking experience.
- 6 to 10 pounds - 1¾ to 2½ hours
- 10 to 18 pounds - 2½ to 3¼ hours
- 18 to 22 pounds - 3¼ to 3¾ hours
- 22 to 24 pounds - 3¾ to 4¼ hours
Unstuffed Whole Turkey
If you're roasting a whole turkey without stuffing, the convection oven guidelines change just a bit. Though the cook time is lower, a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast without touching bone should register 165°F, according to the USDA.
- 6 to 10 pounds - 1½ to 2 hours
- 10 to 18 pounds - 2 to 2½ hours
- 18 to 22 pounds - 2½ to 3 hours
- 22 to 24 pounds - 3 to 3½ hours
Stuffed Whole Turkey Breast
Roasting a whole turkey isn't the only way to serve the Thanksgiving bird. If you're only roasting a turkey breast, the same internal temperature of 165°F is still the standard.
- 3 to 5½ pounds - 1¾ to 2½ hours
- 5½ to 9 pounds - 2½ to 3¼ hours
The internal temperature of the turkey when an instant-read thermometer is inserted between the thigh and side of the breast without touching bone should be 165° to 170°F, even if the turkey is stuffed.
Unstuffed Whole Turkey Breast
If you've decided to leave the breast unstuffed, you'll maintain that same temperature standard and adjust your roasting time by about 45 minutes. Always use your meat thermometer to double check your turkey for safe consumption. You don't need a Thanksgiving disaster on your hands.
- 3 to 5½ pounds - 1½ to 2 hours
- 5½ to 9 pounds - 2 to 2½ hours
Turkey Legs, Thighs, and Wings
Why cook the whole bird if you can choose just the pieces you love most instead? If your family prefers extra portions of juicy turkey dark meat or wings, set your convection oven to 325°F and cook as follows:
- Place in pan and cover. Bake 1 to 1½ hours depending on size.
- Uncover and bake another 30 minutes, or until the bone moves easily and the temperature on an instant-read thermometer not touching bone registers 165°F.
Convection cooking, whether it's an entire turkey or one boneless and skinless chicken breast, involves some adjustment in time and temperature because a convection oven cooks 25% faster than a conventional oven. While the basic roasting time estimates are good, and you should always go by the temperature reading for safety, the answers to these questions can provide additional instruction for properly timing your turkey while cooking.
- What size is the turkey? The larger the turkey, the longer it will need to be cooked.
- Are you cooking a whole turkey, a turkey breast, or just legs and thighs? White meat cooks more quickly than dark meat, so if you are cooking a breast only, it will take less time to cook the meat to a safe temperature.
- Is the turkey stuffed? Stuffed turkeys take longer to cook to bring the stuffing up to a safe serving temperature (165°F) and avoid food poisoning.
- How dark is your roasting pan? A darker roasting pan will generally cook food more quickly than a shiny metal pan.
- Will you be cooking the turkey in a bag? Cooking turkey in a poultry bag further reduces the cooking time. Check the bag manufacturer's instructions for specific cooking times.
- How often will you be basting the turkey? Every time you open the oven to baste the turkey, the temperature of the oven drops slightly. If you baste often, this can lead to slightly longer cooking times. Use a meat thermometer to assure the turkey is cooked to the right temperature.
Tips for Making the Best Turkey in a Convection Oven
You're making the most important part of the Thanksgiving meal, and we've got your back. Make your next turkey your best turkey with these convection oven tips.
- Start with a fully thawed turkey.
- If you wish, season the turkey the day before with a dry rub for added flavor.
- Let the turkey come to room temperature or at least let it sit out of the refrigerator for a few hours before cooking.
- The heated air of a convection oven needs to penetrate the thickest parts of a turkey, so don't truss it closed and let the wings fly free. Instead, insert a long skewer between the drumsticks to keep the turkey from toppling over.
- Make sure the roasting pan is shallow and place the turkey on a rack so the heated air can easily circulate around the bird.
- Remove the turkey from the oven when it reaches about 160°F (only if it is unstuffed) and allow it to stand for about 20 minutes tented with foil. The turkey will continue to cook, bringing it up to the safe temperature of 165°F. This is called carryover cooking. This standing time results in a juicier turkey.
Convection Cooking Speeds Things Up
Cooking a turkey in a convection oven is a terrific way to prepare your next holiday bird. By following the guidelines above and carefully monitoring the temperature of your turkey, you'll have a tasty, juicy turkey that cooks more quickly than you ever could have imagined. And if you have a combination convection steam oven, the times are mind-blowingly fast.