1. Jarven Warren says

    Planning on smoking two 13lb birds on the big green egg at 300 using my smoke thermometer to moniter temps. Thinking one bird will take approximately four hours. Any idea how much longer the cook will take with two?

    • Martin says


      I’m honestly not sure. That will be a thermal mass taking up thermal space in the smoker, but I don’t know how that’ll affect the whole thing. I’d plan on at least an extra hour.

  2. Ron says

    I would NEVER depend on a clock to tell me when my turkey is done, however it is good to know an approximate time so you can plan when dinner will be served.

    • Martin says


      That is a good point. Cooking-time tables can be useful for estimating cooking times, but you are right that they cannot tell you everything you need to know!

  3. Lisa says

    So would a 9-10 # turkey not rise to 165 degrees if removed from oven @ 157 degrees since it was stated that the smaller the bird the less the rise in temp at rest? Or should oven temp be raised to insure carryover rise?

    • Martin says

      A 9-10# turkey will still mostly likely hit165°F. But remember, even if it doesn’t get all the way there, as long as it spends more than 50 seconds above 157°F it’s completely safe to eat.

    • Martin says

      If it’s still at a food-safe temperature, you can eat it (157°, for instance). It will be rubberier, but edible. If you have the time, I’d cut the breasts off and keep cooking the rest of the carcass until you get tot he right temperature. Keep the breasts warm in a cooler.

      • Kurt says

        In the article above, it says that “A turkey carved and served without resting will spill more of its juices onto the cutting board and not be as moist”. If you cut off the breasts and continue to cook the rest of the carcass, will this result in losing fluids that would otherwise be redistributed in the breast meat?

        • Martin says

          A little, yes, but not as much as making multiple cuts to slice the breast into serving portions. It should be ok.

  4. Charlie says

    I’ve been using this method for several years now since I first read it. I use the ice on the breast. I also put it on a rotisserie and position the breast to get less heat. Unfortunately I can’t use my Smoke to monitor the temperature. One additional thing I add is baking soda on the skin the night before to help dry it out and achieve crisp skin. This method works for chicken as well.

    • Avi says

      I was thinking of using my rotisserie this year as well, do you use offset heat? Looking for any tips that might help. Thank you!

      • Martin says

        For a rotisserie, I’d use direct heat for the first 10–20 minutes to get the rendering process moving, then move to indirect heat for the majority of the cook. If you want to blast it at the end a little to crisp the skin, it’s not a bad idea. Good luck!

    • Martin says

      Yes, but you have to take the temp in the center of the stuffing as well as in the meat. The stuffing will absorb uncooked turkey juices during the cook, and those will need to be cooked. The best thing to do is to cook your stuffing separately and insert it into the bird before taking it to the table. Or, just serve it on the side.

      • Scotty_B says

        Or…when the turkey is done, remove the stuffing and finish cooking it to 165 degrees in the oven. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s not easy to duplicate the flavor of stuffing actually cooked inside the turkey. My mom cooked stuffing both ways (inside and out) every Thanksgiving, so I’ve done plenty of side-by-side comparisons. It’s not even close. Those few bites of stuffing from inside the turkey made your first plate special.

        • Martin says

          This isn’t a bad idea. Cook the turkey to proper doneness, then finish the stuffing in the oven. I like it!

        • MarySC says

          What I’ve done for years now, for my stuffing addicted family, is stuff the turkey using a cheesecloth stuffing bag (but prep double or even triple that amount of stuffing). I always roast breast side down for a bit more than half the expected cooking time, and when I turn the turkey I pull out the stuffing bag and mix that stuffing it into the rest of the stuffing and then bake all the stuffing. The turkey is always perfectly cooked (I always pull it at 160°, and will now start using 157°) and there is plenty of flavorful stuffing.

  5. Willie says

    A great resource on cooking turkeys can be found at the Serious Eats website. J. Kenji López-Alt pulls his turkey at 150 degrees and 165 in the thigh but makes sure it rests for a long time to properly pasteurize it. He also spatchcocks it — something that is a great idea.

    • Martin says

      Leaving the legs open allows more heat to get to the dark meat of the thighs where it needs to be. I recommend against trussing the bird in the oven.

  6. William Lenoir says

    Great article! Thank you for not making fun of my ignorance and teaching me how to do Turkey properly! Wish I’d read this years ago!

  7. Scott Caley says

    I used this recipe to roast a15 lb. turkey today with my new ThermoWorks Signals. The turkey turned out PERFECT!

    Used a highly abbreviated version of the dry brining (2 hours instead of 8).

    Iced the breasts exactly as described. Used the pizza stone directions verbatim (used large rectangular stone).

    The breast reached the pull temperature of 157 F in the same minute the thigh reached the temperature of 175 F… 1 hour, 44 minutes into the cook! This is a testament to using the icing/pizza stone technique to balancing the unique cooking needs of these very different meats.

    The breast meat was clearly the BEST turkey I’ve ever eaten! It was so tender and juicy. The aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, thyme) really lent to a very tasty turkey! I’m not normally a fan of dark turkey meat, but I must admit it was tender, juicy, and flavorful.

    I couldn’t have been happier with my ThermoWorks Signals system. I learned that I’ve been over cooking turkey for decades!

    • Martin says

      This is so great to hear! I’m happy you’ve craked the code for delicious turkey, and I wish you many tasty birds to come.

  8. Jill Weisbrod says

    I followed these instructions for a brined 17 lb turkey and it was the best turkey I’ve every made. Zero leftovers! The breast was so tender and was the best part. Usually I prefer the dark meat but not this time. Thanks so much for sharing such detailed knowledge.

  9. Charles Leikam says

    Love my Thermoworks thermometers. Just bought some for my oldest son as he’s moving out and I have always intended my boys learn the importance of a good thermometer in cooking. Cooked this years turkey and never have I cooked to 157F. I saw your guide and decided to give it a shot. Hands down the best turkey I have ever made. Moist breasts and so awesome!! Everyone agreed it was the best turkey they’ve ever had. I am so thankful I found your guide suggesting to cook to 157F instead of the typical 170F for the breast. The breast was definitely done and the best ever. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

  10. Scotty_B says

    I’m curious about how 157 degrees was arrived at, given all of the options on the USDA chart. Why not 155 or even 150 with longer rest times given when the breast starts to release moisture?

    • Martin says

      157°F is the lowest temperature we felt we could recommend without people bombarding us with comments about underdone turkey, but would still provide a much better bird than 165°F. I usually pull mine at 152°F.

      • Chris says

        Glad for this pizza stone clarity. The instructions don’t include exactly what to do with the hot pizza stone, and could use a quick review and edit. Thanks for all the great info!

  11. Paul Groh says

    I like to cook the turkey on the grill’s rotisserie. Once the bird hits the target temp, I turn off the burners but keep the rotisserie turning for about 30 minutes. This seems to result in a good distribution of the juices throughout the turkey. But, my question is, should I turn off the burners a few degrees before the target temp is reached? The grill cover will be closed, so it’ll take a little while for the ambient temp inside the grill to dissipate.

    • Martin says

      I think that’s a very good idea! the carryover will certainly get you there, and it’ll be that many degrees juicier.

  12. John says

    I have iced the breast on previous occasions, works like a charm! This year I want to incorporate the pizza stone but had a question about the stones placement.
    Do you recommend putting the roasting pan directly on the stone or do you place the stone on a lower rack separate from the roasting pan?

  13. Daniel says

    Great (& valid!) guide. The best summary of the essential steps and options. Thanks

  14. Joanne says

    Any thoughts on a 4lb roulade stuffed breast timing? I’m still going with 157?

    Great article. I will dry brine and keep it simple as suggested (no ice pack!)

  15. Harry Davis says

    At the beginning of this article under “How to Cook a Turkey at a Glance: Cooking Time and More”, it states it’s best to cook the turkey in two stages – 450 deg for one hour & then reduce the temp to 325 deg until it’s done.
    Then at the end of the article under “How to Cook a Turkey: Turkey Temperature”, it states to preheat the oven to 425 deg and cook for 1 hour & then reduce the temperature to 325 deg.
    So, what is the correct temperature to start the turkey cooking, 450 deg or 425 deg?

  16. Deb Perry says

    I just received the Chef Alarm probe and am excited to use it. The turkey I ordered will be spatchcocked. Should I insert the probe into the breast, or in one of the thighs?

    • Martin says

      Insert the probe into the breast and set the high-temp alarm for 157°F—or lower, with the corresponding adjustment to resting time. Be sure to verify your temp when the alarm sounds, it’s not always easy to get the thermal center on your first go!

  17. Joanne says

    Oh one more! How long to cook a 4 lb roulade and recommended temp. Thank you!

    Reading recipes temps are all over from 325 to 400

    • Martin says

      I’d cook a turkey roulade—which I assume is made of butterflied breast—at 325 or 350°F. I suspect it’ll take close to an hour, hour-fifteen.

  18. Denis M says

    White chicken meat looks very tasty, I want to cook right away, thanks for the temperature information, the pictures to the article give a complete answer, I have not met such sites for a long time. thanks to the author, I liked it!

  19. Claudia says

    I am making a bone in breast ( 5.6 lbs). Should I do 425 or 375 for the temp? I just purchased both thermos ( one for inside turkey and one pen). So excited to use tomorrow …. Great articles and info!