How Long Does It Take to Cook a 20lb Turkey? | Cooking Time Guide


Thanksgiving is a time for family gatherings and delicious feasts, with the turkey being the star of the show. However, cooking a 20lb turkey can be quite daunting, especially for those who have never done it before. The question that comes to mind is, how long does it take to cook a 20lb turkey?

The answer depends on several factors such as the size of the turkey, the oven temperature, and the cooking method used. In this guide, we will discuss these factors in detail and provide you with an estimated cooking time for your 20lb turkey. By following our tips, you can cook your turkey to perfection, ensuring a juicy and flavorful centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Factors Affecting Cooking Time for Turkey

Size of Turkey

Size of Turkey

When it comes to cooking a turkey, size matters. A larger bird will naturally take longer to cook than a smaller one. To estimate the cooking time for your 20lb turkey, you can use the pound per hour rule as a general guideline.

According to this rule, you should allow approximately 13 minutes of cooking time per pound of turkey. Therefore, for a 20lb turkey, you would need roughly 4 hours and 20 minutes of cooking time. However, it’s important to remember that there are other factors that can affect the cooking time, such as oven temperature and cooking method.

To ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection, it’s important to use a meat thermometer. This will help you determine whether the turkey has reached the appropriate internal temperature, which should be 165°F (75°C) in the thickest part of the bird. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey, being careful not to touch the bone.

It’s also a good idea to let the turkey rest for at least 20-30 minutes after cooking. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more flavorful and tender turkey. Cover the turkey with foil during this resting period to keep it warm.

Remember, these are just general guidelines and cooking times may vary depending on individual circumstances. Be sure to monitor your turkey closely and adjust the cooking time as needed. With a little bit of patience and attention to detail, you can cook a delicious and perfectly roasted turkey for your next holiday meal.

Oven Temperature

Oven Temperature

The oven temperature is a vital factor to consider when cooking a 20lb turkey. The right temperature ensures that the turkey cooks evenly and thoroughly, providing a tasty and juicy meal for you and your loved ones.


Before placing your turkey in the oven, ensure that you preheat it to the recommended temperature. Preheating allows the oven to reach the desired temperature and helps to cook the turkey evenly. Failure to preheat the oven may lead to uneven cooking, undercooking or overcooking of your turkey.

Convection Oven

A convection oven is another option to consider when cooking your 20lb turkey. This type of oven has a fan that distributes heat evenly throughout the oven, creating a consistent temperature. A convection oven can reduce the cooking time required, making it a great option if you are short on time.

However, when using a convection oven, you must adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly. A general rule of thumb is to reduce the cooking time by 25% and reduce the temperature by 25°F. For example, if the recipe recommends cooking a turkey at 350°F for 4 hours, cooking it in a convection oven would require a temperature of 325°F and a cooking time of 3 hours.

In summary, preheating your oven and adjusting the temperature and cooking time for a convection oven are essential factors in ensuring your 20lb turkey is cooked to perfection.

Cooking Method

Cooking Method

There are several ways to cook a turkey, but the two most popular methods are using an oven bag or a roasting pan. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one largely depends on personal preference and cooking experience.

Oven Bag

Using an oven bag is a simple and convenient method for cooking a turkey. The oven bag helps to keep the turkey moist by trapping in steam and juices as it cooks. Additionally, the turkey cooks faster than if it was cooked in a roasting pan because the bag seals in heat. Another benefit of using an oven bag is that it reduces the mess created during the cooking process since the bag contains all the juices and drippings.

To use an oven bag, first, preheat the oven to the recommended temperature. Next, place the oven bag in a roasting pan and add some flour to the bag to prevent it from sticking to the turkey. Add the seasoned turkey to the bag and close it tightly with the provided tie. Cut some slits in the bag to allow steam to escape, and place it in the oven. The turkey should be fully cooked in about 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Roasting Pan

Roasting a turkey in a pan is a traditional method that many people prefer because it gives the turkey a crispy skin and a beautiful brown color. Using a roasting pan also allows for the turkey to cook evenly because the air circulates around it. Additionally, the pan can be used to make gravy from the drippings after the turkey has finished cooking.

To roast a turkey in a pan, start by preheating the oven to the recommended temperature. Place the turkey in a roasting pan lined with foil or parchment paper. Rub butter or oil over the turkey, and season it with herbs and spices. Cover the turkey with foil for the first hour of cooking, then remove the foil and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F. The total cooking time for a 20lb turkey in a roasting pan is approximately 4 to 5 hours.

In conclusion, choosing a cooking method depends on personal preferences, convenience, and experience. Whether you choose to cook your turkey in an oven bag or a roasting pan, make sure to follow the recommended cooking times and temperatures to ensure that your turkey is cooked to perfection.

Cooking Time for 20lb Turkey

Cooking Time for 20lb Turkey

When it comes to cooking a 20lb turkey, one of the most frequently asked questions is how long it takes to cook. The answer to this question is not straightforward as there are various factors that can affect the cooking time of your bird. However, with a few tips and tricks, you can estimate the cooking time required to cook your turkey to perfection.

Estimated Time

As a general rule, the estimated cooking time for a 20lb turkey in a conventional oven is around 4 to 5 hours at 350°F. However, this time can vary depending on the cooking method used, whether you stuff the turkey or not, and even the shape of your turkey.

To determine if your turkey is cooked thoroughly, you can use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey’s thigh to get an accurate reading. The safe internal temperature for cooked turkey is 165°F (74°C).

Resting Period

Once your turkey has been removed from the oven, it is important to let it rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the turkey and results in a more flavorful and juicy bird.

During the resting period, cover your turkey loosely with foil to help keep it warm. Avoid wrapping it tightly as it can trap moisture and make the skin soggy.

In conclusion, the estimated cooking time for a 20lb turkey is about 4 to 5 hours at 350°F. However, it is essential to keep in mind that several factors can affect the cooking time. Additionally, allowing your turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes after cooking will enhance its flavor and juiciness. By following these guidelines, you can cook the perfect 20lb turkey to impress your guests during the holiday season.
Cooking a 20lb turkey may seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach, it can be an enjoyable experience. The size of the turkey, oven temperature and cooking method are all factors that affect the cooking time of your bird. Remember to preheat your oven, use a meat thermometer and allow sufficient resting period before serving.

Knowing how long it takes to cook a 20lb turkey is not just about timing, but also about ensuring the safety and deliciousness of your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. With proper planning and preparation, you can impress your guests with a succulent and perfectly cooked turkey.

In conclusion, cooking a 20lb turkey requires attention to detail, patience and practice. By following the guidelines outlined in this post, you can achieve optimal results and create lasting memories with your loved ones. So go ahead and give it a try! Who knows, you might just become the family’s designated turkey chef for years to come.

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