How to Cook a 19-lb Turkey

A 19-lb. turkey makes for an impressive centerpiece for a holiday celebration or party and provides enough meat to feed a crowd. If you estimate that each person will 1 1/4 lb. of turkey, your 19-lb. turkey will serve 15 people. Your challenge in cooking such a large bird is to make sure the thigh meat is completely done while not drying out the breast and overbrowning the skin. Roast your turkey to perfection to ensure it is both juicy and completely cooked to prevent foodborne illness.

A turkey cooking in the oven.
Credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Remove the turkey from the bag and pull the bagged giblets and neck out of the turkey.

Step 3

Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Step 4

Lift the turkey and place it in the roasting pan, breast side up. You may need to use both hands, as the turkey is heavy and slippery.

Step 5

Tuck the wings underneath the turkey.

Step 6

Rub the butter over the turkey.

Step 7

Insert the thermometer into the deepest part of the turkey's thigh.

Step 8

Place the pan in the oven and roast for two hours.

Step 9

After two hours, cover the breast and thighs with aluminum foil to prevent further browning.

Step 10

Continue to roast the turkey for another 90 minutes. Check the thermometer. If it reads 180 degrees Fahrenheit, your turkey is fully cooked. If it reads less than 180 degrees, continue to roast the turkey and check the thermometer regularly until it reads 180 degrees.

Step 11

Lift the pan using the oven mitts. The turkey and pan will be extremely hot.

Step 12

Rest the turkey for 15 minutes before carving.

Things You'll Need

  • 19-lb. turkey, fresh or defrosted

  • Paper towels

  • Large roasting pan

  • 3/4 cup softened butter

  • Oven-safe thermometer

  • Aluminum foil

  • Oven mitts


Thaw a frozen 19-lb. turkey in the refrigerator for four to five days.

You can thaw a 19-lb. turkey in eight to 10 hours by submerging it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes.

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