For previous Thanksgivings, we have brined and roasted our turkey. (Here is the detailed process.) After brining for about a day, we roast the bird for 30 minutes at 500°F and then bake it at 350°F until it's reached 160°F internally.

The bird is stuffed with an apple and half an onion (sliced), a cinnamon stick and some sage leaves for flavor. During the high-heat phase, the breast is protected with a foil sheet. The turkey legs are pulled inward towards the body; we do not spatchcock it.

The problem is that it's always taken much longer than we'd estimated for the turkey to come to temperature. We end up serving dinner 2 or 3 hours later than expected which is certainly sub-optimal. Based on the turkey's weight (and preparation process), how can we estimate how long it will take to cook?

We do use an independent thermometer to verify oven temperature.

Ideally, I'd like a formula for how to calculate cooking time from weight, and how to adjust based on details such as brining.

  • Please describe how you prep your turkey.... stuffing or no? Trussed or no? Are you open to spatchcocking?
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 17:29
  • @Yamikuronue - The other question has conflicting information and is not focused on a brined turkey (to me, anyway). The answers say either 15 or 20 minutes per pound, but also that brined turkeys don't take as long. The recipe I linked to says that it should take around 2.5 hours to cook.
    – KatieK
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 18:12
  • KatieK, brining does not really change the cooking time, so much as mitigate the risk of overcooking.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 18:28
  • I thought I recognized the Good Eats method.... the thing is, that time and temperature should be pretty close for a 16 lb or so turkey. Even bringing it cold from the refrigerator to the oven (which I do) doesn't add that much time to the roasting. If you are not getting a roasting time in the 2-3 hour range, I think something else is badly wrong, but if you are using an oven thermometer, I cannot guess what it is.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 19:22
  • A 16 lb turkey - using the 15m per lb + 20m formula - would take 4h 20m. So how does Good Eats get 2-3 hours?
    – KatieK
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


I've never roasted an entire turkey, but my grandmother followed Delia Smith's advice every year and it never failed us. Typically it worked at at around 15 - 20 minutes per lb of bird.

  1. Cooking times for other sizes of turkey:

8-10 lb (3.5-4.5 kg) – 30 minutes at the high temperature, then 2½-3 hours at the lower temperature, then a final 30 minutes (uncovered) at gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C). 15-20 lb (6.75-9 kg) – 45 minutes at the high temperature, then 4-5 hours at the lower temperature, then a final 30 minutes (uncovered) at gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).

  • Is this for a brined turkey, or some other kind of preparation?
    – KatieK
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 18:14
  • Sorry, I forgot to clarify - No it's not for a brined Turkey. It's for a normal roast.
    – Adam C
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 19:22

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