Roasting a 25-pound turkey might seem intimidating to even the most experienced cook, but the investment in a meat thermometer will take away both guesswork and anxiety. Knowing how to prepare and season it, as well as the appropriate turkey roasting time, will result in a perfect bird every time.
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Turkey Cooking Times and Temperatures
For a 20- to 24-pound turkey, the USDA estimates roasting time will take 4 1/2 to 5 hours for an unstuffed bird and 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours for a stuffed bird. (The USDA does not recommend stuffing a turkey unless you buy a frozen, pre-stuffed turkey.)
A 25-pound turkey would take approximately 5 hours and 30 minutes to cook until done — when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast and thigh registers 165 F, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.
If you buy a frozen turkey, FoodSafety.gov recommends following this formula: Thaw the turkey in a refrigerator set to 40 F or below for approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. Allow about 30 minutes per pound for cold water thawing, changing the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed.
A turkey thawed in cold water should be cooked immediately. A 20- to 25-pound turkey would take five to six days to thaw in the refrigerator, or 10 to 12 hours to thaw in cold water.
Cook a 25-Pound Turkey
There are many and varying methods available in cookbooks and online for roasting a 25-pound turkey. A simple method is detailed below.
- Prepare the turkey for roasting: Remove your fresh or frozen turkey from the fridge 30 to 60 minutes before you plan to cook it. (If you're cooking from frozen, a 25-pound turkey should be thawed in the refrigerator for six days or in cold water for 12 hours.) Have a roasting pan ready. Remove any packaging and the bag of giblets — check in the body cavity and in the neck cavity. Set the turkey breast-side up on the roasting rack, set in a roasting pan and let it sit while the oven preheats.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F: Rub the turkey with salt and pepper before putting it in the oven. Other options could include rubbing the turkey with olive oil or butter before the salt and pepper; fresh or dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary or oregano rubbed on the body or inserted in the cavity; or a quartered onion or fresh lemon (or both) arranged in the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Add liquid to the roasting pan: Pour 2 cups of water or chicken broth into the roasting pan. Insert an oven-proof thermometer into the inside of the turkey's thigh.
- Cook the turkey: Place the roasting pan with the turkey in the oven and cook for about 5 1/2 hours, basting with the liquid every 45 minutes.
- Check the turkey's temperature: Begin checking the turkey's temperature about halfway through the estimated cooking time. Check the temperature in the inside thigh, as well as the breast and outer thigh. In each spot, the meat should be at least 165 F, according to the USDA, when the turkey has finished cooking. If any area is under 165 F, put the turkey back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Shield the breast meat with foil if needed to keep it from overcooking.
- Rest the turkey: When the turkey registers a minimum of 165 F, remove it from the oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. When ready to eat, the meat should register 180 F.
Get Additional Help
The USDA offers several services if you have further turkey-roasting questions: Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). You can also chat live in English or Spanish with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.
Read more: 7 Leftover Turkey Recipes to be Thankful For
- USDA: "Let's Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey"
- USDA: "Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart"
- FoodSafety.gov: "Meat and Poultry Charts"
- Exploratorium.edu: "Timing the Perfect Turkey"
- USDA: "How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey"
- University of Minnesota Extension: "Turkey Basics"