When deciding to roast a turkey it is best that you put quite a lot of thought into the entire process to ensure you do not mess it up. One of the most important aspects to consider is the turkey’s temperature before being roasted. Sure, you could roast it from frozen yet this can lead to uneven cooking, longer cooking times, and shrinkage. So, should you bring your turkey to room temperature before cooking?
Table of Contents
- Leaving A Turkey at Room Temperature
- Other Turkey Tips
- Should a turkey be room temp before roasting? – FAQs
Leaving A Turkey at Room Temperature
Before roasting a turkey, it is heavily recommended that you leave it outside of the fridge or freezer for a while. This’ll allow it to get to room temperature.
While this may seem like a waste of time to some people, it is actually very helpful. It will make sure your turkey is delicious and high quality even after it has been roasted.
The main reason to allow your turkey to come to room temperature is so that you evenly cook it throughout. It must be consistent with the temperature it is cooked at.
When frozen or chilled, the thicker parts of the turkey are going to warm up and cook a lot slower than any thinner parts. This can cause places (such as the wings) to cook a lot quicker than the breasts. This’ll cause them to be overcooked or burnt by the time the thickest part of the turkey has properly cooked.
Even if you end up not burning the turkey, some parts of the meat will be colder than other parts. Despite being properly cooked, the temperatures will still be lower in the thickest part of the bird. This is unavoidable and will happen even if you do have your turkey at room temperature. However, the differences are a lot less noticeable with this preparation taken.
Another reason to allow your turkey to come to room temperature is that it will prevent shrinkage. Meat and poultry will shrink by around 25% after being cooked. This percentage is even higher if the meat is frozen or chilled beforehand. Going from a lower temperature to a higher temperature will take a lot of time, which will allow the meat to shrink even more as it is in the oven for an extended period.
Having your turkey at room temperature will drastically decrease the cooking time. This thus will ensure you do not lose too much meat due to shrinkage.
Other Turkey Tips
While the most valuable tips have already been mentioned, there are a lot of other incredibly helpful tips that can prepare you as well as possible before you start cooking your turkey. Chances are, you’re cooking the turkey for a big occasion such as Thanksgiving, so you want to do everything possible to make sure it turns out okay!
One of the most important things to take into consideration is the size of your turkey. This will affect a few steps in the entire cooking process. You’ll need to make sure you have the correct items to deal with a turkey of any size.
Firstly, it is important to know if your turkey can actually fit in the oven or not. Don’t worry, plenty of people have bought a turkey too big and have not been able to fit it in their oven. It is nothing to be embarrassed by.
Secondly, assuming your turkey does fit in the oven, you will also need to find a tray that the turkey can sit in. Ideally, the tray should be walled and quite deep with extra room around the sides of the turkey so that it is not squished into place. Making sure the tray is deep will be essential for collecting all the cooking juices and fats, which will be spoken about later.
Lastly, it is also a good idea to take note of your turkey’s thickest and thinnest points. When you naturally check on your turkey to see how it is coming along, you will want to take extra care to check these points. You are mostly looking to see if the thinnest part has burnt or if the thickest part is still raw. You can adjust your cooking times depending on these two factors.
Before cooking your turkey, or even trying to for that matter, it is important that you weigh your turkey. This might not be necessary depending on where you got it. Some supermarkets will have a label on the turkey that will state its weight, and butchers will also happily weigh the turkey for you. Knowing the rough weight of your turkey is very important for getting the correct cooking times.
To make sure all cooking times are completely accurate, you are going to want to preheat your oven for at least 20 minutes before placing the turkey in there. None of this ‘turn the oven on and hope for the best’ behavior. We need to be accurate.
Depending on the weight of your turkey, cooking times can vary a lot. The average cooking time for a turkey that weighs 4-5 KG is 2 – 2.5 hours. With each kg added, the cooking time will increase by roughly 25 minutes. This means that a bird weighing 9-10 kg should cook within 4-4.5 hours.
A great way to tell if your turkey is done is to wait until the juices from the turkey run clear. Pierce the thigh with a sharp knife. Observe the juices that run out, if they are clear then your turkey is basically done.
While cooking, place tin foil over your turkey for the majority of the cooking process. This will allow the juices and fats that are evaporated to steam the turkey which can help evenly cook it.
When you have around 45 minutes to 1 hour left of your cooking time, take off the tin foil. Let the oven nicely brown the top of your turkey.
After your bird has been cooked, you will have to rest it for a while. This is necessary as the juices in the meat need to settle.
To explain this further, when being cooked all of the juices in the meat will be drawn out. Which is why they leak and sizzle. This leads to a well-cooked turkey, yet it will also be very dry.
To help counter the dryness, resting your turkey will allow for the juices to be absorbed again by the meat. This will make it consistently moist throughout instead of the middle being bone-dry and only the outer layers being moist.
Depending on the size and density of your turkey, the resting times will fluctuate. Resting for up to 2 hours is quite common. Although smaller turkeys can be rested for 1.5 hours.
Just make sure to loosely cover the bird with foil to ensure it keeps some of its heat and has nothing nasty touch it.
If you love gravy but do not have the time (or effort) to make it, this trick will be so useful to you.
Before cooking, place some aromatic and delicious veggies at the bottom of the tray. Chopped carrots, onions, garlic, parsnip, and potatoes are brilliant choices. They can be roughly chopped or diced, either will work.
After being cooked, the juices from the turkey will create a natural gravy in the tin. You can blend and mix with a few other ingredients. Then serve alongside the rest of your meal!
Should a turkey be room temp before roasting? – FAQs
How long to roast a turkey?
Roasting a turkey can take quite a while, especially if you have a large turkey. A smaller turkey that weighs 4-5 kg will take 2-2.5 hours to cook properly throughout. However, a larger turkey that is around 9-10 kg can take between 4-4.5 hours to cook. Generally speaking, there are roughly 25 minutes added to the cooking time for every kg extra.
Should all Meat be Cooked from Room Temperature?
While it is certainly more necessary for larger cuts of meat such as poultry and other large cuts, allowing your food to come to room temperature before cooking it is generally a good practice to apply to all meats. The only exception to this is fish as it will risk going off in those two hours due to how unstable it is.
Hello Anna, I’ve been cooking turkeys for decades but have missed the last few years. Your advice is a great reminder to the little things I do but have forgotten over the years. Thanks!