Traditional cooking is one significant aspect of Thanksgiving and this is exactly where turkey is preferred as one of the finest meals to try. Not just Thanksgiving, but the bird is also tried in any part of the year as it could be tried in multiple delicious recipes.
When it comes to cooking a turkey, smoking of late has become the most preferred manner, considering the taste it brings to the meat and also the positive difference it has as compared to other methods of cooking turkey. However, smoking is best done when certain aspects of its cooking are ensured.
Let us get to the specifics and ask straightaway that, do you cook a turkey at 325 or 350? Well the answer to this question is relative and we will find out all about the ‘how’ part.
What determines the cooking time of turkey?
Lots of stress is attributed to cooking turkey in order to help yourself to get a perfect recipe for Thanksgiving. Before we get to the temperature specifics, it is first needed to estimate how much turkey meat in pounds you want. Depending on the number of people at home or guests invited over a meal, you can get turkey to be cooked based on a specific amount of turkey meat per person.
The basic dependent factor in determining the time it takes to cook the turkey at a specific temperature is the precise amount of turkey weight being cooked. Apart from this, the following factors can also determine the temperature to be 325 or 350 degrees:
· What is the method used for cooking? The method could be smoking, roasting or deep frying. In our case, we will be talking specifically about smoking turkey only.
- Are you cooking a fresh or frozen turkey?
- Which specific smoker you have and how particular are you with preheat settings.
- Is your turkey a pasture-raised one or a heritage one? It may significantly impact the cooking time and the temperature at which it needs to be cooked.
We must understand that turkey can come in varying different sizes with differing weight as well. There is a possibility that the larger turkey might weight less than the smaller one. This may be because of the density of the turkey meat or it could also be a result of absorbed or injected additives within the body of the bird.
Temperature required for cooking turkey meat:
In a smoking oven, cooking temperature of 325 degrees is found to be ideal for fast and perfect cooking. However, as mentioned earlier, it is the weight of the turkey being cooked that determines the amount of time it takes to cook turkey perfectly at a temperature of 325 degrees. The following is a rough guide to allow you understand the time required:
- 1.25 hours – 8 pounds meat
- 1.75 hours – 12 pounds meat
- 2 hours – 14 pounds meat
- 3 hours – 18 pounds meat
- 4 hours – 20 pounds meat
Please note that the timings mentioned above are given under the assumption that your turkey meat is either fresh or fully defrosted before cooking. Further, the time given is also for the case of unstuffed turkey being cooked. For the stuffed turkey, cooking timing does increase.
You can roughly add around 20 to 30 minutes more for cooking as per the cooking time as per the weight of the meat given above.
The best way to find out whether your turkey meat is done or not is through the checking of its temperature. For this, you can employ a cooking thermometer and use t at the fleshy part of the turkey meat. If the temperature (internal) reads about 165 degrees then your meat is cooked properly.
Precisely, the innermost area of the turkey’s thigh, breast piece from its thickest section or the wings could be used to inject the thermometer and get the accurate internal temperature reading. The cooked meat temperature should ideally be also checked after the meat is kept for a rest of 20 minutes or so.
The temperature at that time should be around 165 degrees as well. Please note that the temperature may rise by 10 degrees after the meat is kept at rest for some time.
For a perfect cooking experience with turkey meat, it is highly advised not to trust the popup thermometer indicator ever. This might not give you the right indication about the exact cooking state of the turkey meat. The best and reliable option is only to use a top-performing food thermometer and also to use it at the right part of the meat as mentioned above to get the precise internal temperature, which for turkey has to be 165 degrees at least.
For some large turkey birds, let say the ones having a weight of 20 pounds and over could be cooked at 350 degrees and the timing as per the above guide could be adjusted. However, the 350-degree temperature is less preferable, especially for the smaller birds. The best results are almost always achieved in turkey cooking when it is cooked at a temperature of 350 degrees in the oven.
We can safely assume here that there is no precise answer to the question that how long and at what temperature turkey needs to be cooked as there are so many factors involved that are discussed above.
Do you cook a turkey at 325 or 350 degrees is a question well answered here. We have clearly distinguished between the different factors involved that determines the cooking time and the temperature required.
It is mainly the weight of the meat is cooked but other factors such as fresh or frozen meat, pastured raised or heritage turkey and the type of smoker also influences the cooking temperature required and the amount it takes to complete cooking food.
As there are multiple factors involved in determining the time and temperature required for cooking, therefore, an internal food thermometer can be an excellent tool to control some of the variables involved in turkey's cooking.