How Long Does It Take To Cook a 22 lb Turkey? (+Chart)

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Staying on schedule for the Thanksgiving feast can be challenging when you need to roast a large bird.

You can easily miscalculate the time you need or get sidetracked from all of the commotion around you.

This can ruin the main meal on your dinner table and leave your guests full of disappointment.

That’s why it’s so important to know exactly how long to cook a hefty 22 lb turkey at a temperature of 350°F or less (175°C).

With this guide, you’ll learn not only that but also the best temperature for roasting a Thanksgiving turkey.

How long does it take to cook a 22 lb turkey?

The amount of time you’ll need to spare to fully cook a 22 lb turkey will depend on whether it’s stuffed or not.

Stuffed turkey requires a bit more time since the heat needs to penetrate the stuffing in order to roast the meat evenly.

With that said, you’ll generally need roughly 5 hours and 30 minutes to cook a 22 lb turkey when it’s stuffed, and about four hours and forty five minutes if it’s made without stuffing.

Bear in mind that these are only guidelines. The type of your oven can greatly reduce or increase the time needed to roast your turkey.

That’s why it’s better to check if your turkey is done by measuring its internal temperature.

Turkey roasting time chart

If your turkey weighs more or less than 22 pounds, then you can use the chart below as a guideline.

The cooking estimates that I’ve included are based on a an oven that’s running at a temperature of 350°F / 175°C.

At this temperature, a turkey generally needs to be cooked for 13 minutes per pound when it’s unstuffed and 15 minutes per pound if it’s stuffed.

It’s also a good idea to factor in the resting time you’ll set aside for your turkey.

I haven’t included the rest time in the chart since I like to leave my turkey resting for more than half an hour.

a chart showing stuffed and unstuffed turkey cooking times at 350°F, sorted by the weight of the bird

Also, don’t forget to thaw your turkey in the fridge before you roast it in the oven. A partially thawed turkey will cook unevenly and take more time than the estimates in the chart.

How to tell when a turkey is done?

The most reliable way to check if a turkey is done is to measure its internal temp with a meat thermometer.

Even though it’s not rocket science, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you stick a temperature probe inside your turkey.

Firstly, you should calibrate your thermometer to make sure it’s giving you an accurate reading.

To do this simply place the thermometer in a bowl filled with ice cold water for 30 seconds.

If it’s well adjusted, it should give you a reading of 32°F (0°C). If not, you should add or subtract the difference.

Secondly, you should make sure you don’t plunge the thermometer into a fatty deposit or accidentally hit a bone.

To avoid this, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. You’ll know you’ve hit the right spot when you start to feel some resistance.

The last thing you should bear in mind when measuring the internal temp of turkey is to take carryover cooking into account.

Carryover cooking will raise the temperature of the turkey with roughly 5 – 10 degrees while it’s resting.

That’s why it’s better to take out your turkey once it reaches 155°F / 68°C instead of the recommended 165°F / 74°C.

If you don’t have a digital thermometer, you can check this article to see how to tell when your turkey is done.

Pro tips for cooking a 22 lb turkey

Thaw your bird first

There’s nothing that can make your Thanksgiving dinner worse than chewing on a piece of rubbery undercooked turkey.

And if you don’t thaw your turkey properly in the fridge, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

So if you don’t want to spoil the holiday for your family and friends, you should take your time defrosting your turkey.

This means scheduling roughly five and half days to defrost your turkey in advance. I know this might seem like much, but you’ll thank me later.

Speaking of scheduling, you also can cook your turkey ahead of time if you want to avoid any last minute surprises.

With proper storage, it will stay just as moist as the day you cooked it. Just don’t forget to save the drippings for your gravy.

Use a brine

A simple brine of kosher salt and black pepper will help draw out the moisture from the turkey and make it more juicy.

As an added benefit, it will also enhance the effects of the Maillard reaction and crisp up the skin.

If you’re willing to take the risk, you can also inject the turkey with a wet brine. However, I personally tend to avoid wet brines since you can easily make a big mess if you’re not careful.

Anyways, you’ll need to let the turkey soak up the dry brine for a minimum of 12 hours if you want it to take in all of the juices.

Give your turkey a nice big rest

Most online sources, busy housewives and mother-in-laws will tell you that letting a turkey rest for more than half an hour is an overkill.

But that’s not what celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey nor I think.

In my personal experience, wrapping the turkey in aluminum foil and stashing it in a cooler for at least as long as you roasted it works way better.

It allows all of the juices to get evenly distributed without any loss of flavor or dryness. Sure, it does take a bit of patience to reach the final goal, but it’s totally worthwhile at the end.

My final takeaway

A 22 lb turkey can feed a whole dozen people, but does take quite a bit of time to fully cook.

In general, you’ll need about four hours and forty five minutes to roast your bird if it’s stuffed and five and a half hours if it’s unstuffed.

Don’t forget to use an instant read thermometer to check its temperature. It will allow you to gauge its doneness way better.

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