Is Turkey Done at 165°F or 180°F?

Is Turkey Done at 165 or 180° Fahrenheit?

The simple answer to this question is that 165°F or 74°C is perfect. Irrespective of what you might have heard from experts, you should not cook your turkey, especially the breast and wing parts, more than 165°F, and definitely not more than 180°F. Even at 165°F the thighs and legs are properly cooked, since you still have to leave it for 20-30 minutes after taking it out of the oven. Overall, the turkey is done once it has about 165°F in its thighs and legs, which are the toughest parts.

What Internal Temperature Should You Cook A Turkey To?

Thanksgiving is incomplete without a properly cooked and delicious turkey. Irrespective of the day being Thanksgiving or not, turkey has to be cooked to the proper internal temperature to maintain health safety and its mouth-watering flavor. Hence, knowing when to take the turkey out of the oven is important when preparing this tasty bird. You do not want an undercooked or overcooked turkey.

How to know if my Turkey is properly cooked?

There are some people who can tell the doneness of a turkey by its aroma or juicy color. While it is possible to tell, they are often more wrong than they are right. The scientific way to know your turkey is properly cooked and ready to be carved is by checking its temperature with a thermometer.

There have been differing views on the appropriate temperature a turkey should be cooked to before it is safe to eat and appetizing. This can be a stressful situation. One of the main reasons for these disparities is because some part of the turkey, like the thighs and legs are considered dark meat, and other parts as white meat. The thighs and legs are the most used body parts of the turkey; hence, they are tougher compared to the predominant white meat. Consequently, for this reason, some experts believe that the appropriate temperature turkey for cooking turkey should be 180. On the other hand, there are more popular beliefs that cooking turkey up to 180 can result in it becoming dry meat.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to reconcile these differing views. If you are cooking just the dark meat part of the turkey, which are the thighs or legs, you can bring its temperature up to 180 or less. On the other hand, the predominant parts of the turkey, which are white meat, can have an internal temperature of 165. This view is popular and it is also backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Nonetheless, it is advisable to have a 165 internal temperature for the turkey if you are cooking a whole one. The reason is that you do not want to overcook it and make it dry. Hence, maintaining the safe internal temperature of 165 while factoring in the carry-over cooking means the dark meat will also get cooked to the right temperature.

Does Turkey keep cooking after taking it out?

A turkey will rise by up to 10°F after it is taken out of the oven and rested. This makes it imperative that you don’t allow the turkey’s temperature to exceed 165°F while cooking, because it adds more degrees while resting. If you are factoring in carry-over cooking or residual heat after pulling the turkey out of the oven, 160°F should give you the juiciest and most delicious meat.

Can I tell if a Turkey is properly cooked without a Thermometer?

Some can tell a turkey’s doneness by its aroma, look, or piercing it to check the color of its juice. According to them, if the color of the juice is clear and not reddish or pink, it is adequately cooked. However, these approaches are not reliable, and you are more likely to get it wrong than right. Hence, the bottom line is, you need a thermometer to be certain.

How to test a Turkey for its internal Temperature?

We already established how you can check if your turkey is done, but not relying on its aroma or juicy color. The temperature can be measured using a thermometer, but which type of thermometer can be used and how do you use it? The two common types of meat thermometers to check for temperature are the instant-read thermometer and the oven-proof thermometer. Yes, it is possible to check your turkey’s temperature when it is inside the oven with an oven-proof thermometer. The next step after getting your thermometer is making sure that it is properly calibrated for accuracy. The succeeding step after getting a thermometer, which is also important, is knowing the right place to stick it to read the temperature. The best part of the turkey to insert the thermometer into is the thigh, as it is the thickest part and takes the longest time to cook. In addition, you should also check the wing and breast temperatures to be certain of the turkey’s temperature. While inserting the thermometer, you should ensure that it doesn’t touch the bone or pan. Hold the thermometer still and when you have a safe, steady reading, your turkey is ready.

What Should the Cooking Temperature be?

According to the USDA, if you want to get a turkey done quickly, set the oven to 325°F (162.8°CF). So, if you are cooking a turkey weighing 10 pounds, you should set the oven temperature at 325°F before cooking, cook for around 2 hours, and check if it has an inner temperature of 165°F.

Now, since we are all about grilling and smoking, you can of course also smoke a turkey the low and slow method. I have full guide on smoking turkeys which I recommend you check out.

Calculating Cooking Duration

The rule of thumb to determine how long to cook a turkey and make a quick estimate, is to multiply the weight (pounds) by 13 minutes. So, if you have a turkey weighing 10 pounds, the estimated cooking time should be 130 minutes, which is about 2 hours and a few minutes.

How long will it take to properly cook a stuffed Turkey?

A stuffed turkey will take a bit more time to be properly cooked than an unstuffed turkey. According to the USDA, it will take an additional 30 minutes to the time it will take an unstuffed turkey to be done. Hence, a stuffed 10-pound turkey might take about 2 hours 40 minutes. It is important to note that merely cooking for this duration is not enough; you also have to take the turkey’s temperature to be certain it is properly cooked.

While some people might prefer to stuff their turkey, it is not recommended. According to the USDA, stuffed turkey can become a breeding ground for bacteria if not prepared well. To avoid this, you can prepare your stuffing separately.

When should I Carve my Turkey?

It is important to allow the turkey to rest for some time before carving it, which should be at least 20 minutes. During this period, the juice is reabsorbed by the turkey and settles well. A hasty carving means the juice will dribble out while slicing, which isn’t good for the turkey’s taste.

Does Pink Meat mean Turkey is Undone?

The pink or red pigmentation of a cooked turkey doesn’t mean it is undercooked or a sign of its degree of doneness. In fact, it isn’t out of the ordinary if your turkey’s color remains pink after cooking to the safe internal temperature because smoked turkeys are often pink. So, if the color of your turkey is pink after cooking to a temperature of 165°F, do not be scared. There are reasons for the pink coloring of a turkey. Chemical changes while cooking is one of the reasons for the pink color. In addition, the reddish or pinkish color of a cooked turkey can be caused by myoglobin, a red protein pigment found in the muscle cells where oxygen is stored. Furthermore, the turkey’s young age can also cause it to be pink. Hence, do not determine the turkey’s doneness based on its pinkness, but with a thermometer.

Can I reheat an already cooked Turkey?

Yes, you can. The best temperature to reheat your turkey remains the same as the temperature it was initially cooked at. The oven’s temperature should remain at 325°F and the turkey reheated to 165°F.

The benefits of Cooking Turkey at the Right Temperature

Failing to prepare your turkey to the safe internal temperature and undercooking it means some harmful bacteria will be alive during consumption. This makes you susceptible to foodborne illness or threats from bacteria. This makes it imperative to cook your turkey to the safe temperature for your health’s safety. In addition, you also get to eat a delicious and juicy turkey if it is cooked to the right temperature.

The Bottom Line

It is important to cook your turkey to a safe internal temperature, which is 165°F. Undercooking your turkey leaves you at risk of food poisoning or illness caused by bacteria. In addition, the best temperature to cook your turkey remains at 165°F, not 180°F. However, if you also consider carry-over cooking, which is equally important in the turkey’s preparation phase, you can take the turkey out of the oven at 160°F. Overcooking your turkey should also be avoided as much as undercooking, as they both leave the turkey undesirable.

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