How Long to Cook a 20 Pound Turkey? Crazy recipe!

How long to cook a 20 pound turkey? Crazy recipe!

No more trial and error! Get all the information you need about how long does it take to cook a 20 pound turkey plus a simple recipe and secret tips to ensure you get a delicious turkey with juicy meat, golden brown, and crispy skin. 

Guess what? You don’t need any special equipment or ingredients to make that turkey that will earn you a standing reputation as the host of the year. Let’s walk you through it.

Let’s find how the best temperatures and recipe for a big 20 lb turkey? Continue reading below!

The best turkey cooking times and temperature

20 lb turkey cooking time

Do you ever wonder what is the best and exact turkey cooking time and temperature to get that perfect turkey you desire? Well, you are about to find out. 

Generally, the bigger the size of your turkey, the longer you should expect the turkey to cook. Bigger turkey sizes generally take a longer time to cook perfectly.

However, whatever the time or temperature, you can always tell that your turkey is done by checking the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. More on how to tell when your turkey is done below. 

How long does it take to cook a 20 Pound turkey?

How long does it take to cook a 20 Pound turkey

For a 20 pound turkey, when cooking at the best temperature, it usually takes about 4 – 4 ½ hours for the turkey to cook properly. The bigger the turkey, the longer you have to cook. However, it is important to always pay attention to the temperature, as we can burn the turkey and spoil the recipe.

What is the best temperature for cooking a 20 Pound turkey?

Cooking a 20 lb turkey in oven

When it comes to cooking a large-sized turkey of 20 pounds, there is no one-temperature-fits-all turkey standard. You will likely find that different recipes give different opinions as to what the perfect temperature for a 20 pound turkey should be. 

The most recommended temperatures fall somewhere between 320 ºF – 400 ºF or higher. Any temperature between the range is fine, but we recommend a lower temperature say 325 ºF because this gives you more control over how your turkey should turn out.

Certainly, higher temperatures cook faster but also increase the likelihood of having your turkey overcooked, burnt, or even a dry turkey. With a lower temperature, you have more control over the outcome of your turkey. 

When cooking a large-sized turkey up to 20 pounds, if you must, it is preferred to err a few degrees under than above

How long do you cook a stuffed turkey per pound?

If it takes 4 – 4 ½ hours to cook a stuffed 20 pound turkey at 325 ºF, that means for every one pound, you will have to cook the turkey in 12 to 13.5 minutes.  

20 Pound turkey amazing recipe

How long to cook a 20 pound turkey? Crazy recipe!

20 Pound turkey amazing recipe

Follow our simple recipe to cook that perfect turkey you desire! You want to take all necessary measures to have an excellent turkey starting from the preparation to cooking.
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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 3 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 16 People



  • 1 Quartered white onion
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Celery stalks
  • Fresh herbs (such as sage, and thyme)

For the turkey

  • 20 lb Turkey
  • Baker's twine
  • Aluminum foil
  • An instant-read thermometer
  • Unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A large, heavy-duty roasting pan with a rack


1. Defrost your turkey

  • If you just bought your turkey from the store, the first thing to do is to defrost that bird. And the best way to defrost your turkey is using a refrigerator. This will take you about 5 to 6 days since it takes approximately one day for every 4 pounds of turkey to defrost. 
  • To defrost your turkey, simply place your bird on a large baking sheet and slide it into the fridge. There you go!

2. Preheat your oven

  • After defrosting, bring out your turkey and place it on the roasting pan from the oven at room temperature for about an hour. During this time, you should preheat your oven ready to 325ºF temperature.
  • 3. Prepare that turkey!
  • Seasoning begins every cooking process. Turkeys are no exception because you need the flavors to permeate the turkey thoroughly. 
  • Make your turkey look good before you start seasoning. After you unwrap, remove the neck for roasting and the giblets for gravy. 
  • Then place your turkey on the rack, wings behind, breast facing up. Butter the turkey completely using your hand. Ensure you get the sides and also butter between the skin and the meat.
  • Now season the large cavity with plenty of pepper and salt and your spices.
  • Season outside the bird with salt and pepper as well.
  • Tie the turkey legs with baker’s twine. 
  • You may wish to pout up to ½ cup of water in the oven pan to prevent the vegetables from scouring.

Time to cook

  • Before you slide in your roasting pan with your turkey on it, ensure that your oven rack is in the lowest position. This is important because the breast meat facing up is very delicate plus you also want the turkey bottom to cook properly. 
  • When you’ve done this, slide in your roasting pan with your turkey and close the door. Set your timer to 3 hours and wait.
  • When it’s 3hrs, take a peek to see if there is a color change to brown. If yes, lay a piece of buttered foil over the turkey and close the oven. If not, keep cooking.


This recipe is suitable for about 16 people. We're talking about a heavy turkey, as it makes for a big Thanksgiving lunch!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How do you tell when your turkey is done? 

It’s time to use that instant-read thermometer you have by your side. Yes, that’s all you need. You can tell when your turkey is done from the internal temperature and you can test this using thermometer.

To do this, carefully remove your roasting pan with turkey from the oven. Ensure you close the over door to preserve the heat. Insert your thermometer in the crease between the leg and breast. Avoid contact with bones.

When the internal temperature of your turkey reads 165ºF then it’s done. If not, open the over door and slide your turkey back in the oven. Check again after every 15 minutes. 

When you cook your turkey at 325 ºF temperature, it usually takes about 4 – 4 ½ hours to cook properly. 

How many people does a 20lb turkey serve?

This can be tricky depending on who you are serving. However, plan 1 to 1.25 pounds per person. So, you should expect that your 20 pound turkey can feed up to 16-20 persons which is okay. 

Final tips

A lot of persons wonder if they need to brine and baste their turkey during cooking. Let’s clear that up.

When cooking a heritage turkey or a wild turkey, you may want to brine your turkey as this will ensure you get juicy meat with golden browned and crisp skin. However, most store-bought turkeys have more than enough moisture and don’t require you to brine that turkey. Brining in this case has no effect except to make you lose oven heat and to lengthen your cooking time.

The same goes for basting. Buttering your turkey completely also removes the need for basting. 

Now you have the secret recipe to win the host of the year with your perfect turkey.

So, do you already know how long does it take to cook a 20 pound turkey? If you have any question, please, feel free to leave your comments below!

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