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Nov 24, 2008 04:01 PM

Turkey Final Temp? And How long to rest the bird?

To what temperature do you cook your turkey? I have seen recommendations from 140 to 170 in the breast. I've had trouble with getting a non-dry breast, even in the brined birds.

And How long do you allow the bird to rest? Is there a certain number of minutes per lb? Or until the bird cools to a certain temperature?

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  1. I believe I just read that the USDA now recommends cooking to 165. I just made our yearly "practice turkey" (actually, now it's just that turkey is so cheap it's hard to pass up knowing that we'll be dining at my Mom's for Thanksgiving - I NEED those leftovers) and used a cheap bird, didn't brine, just rubbed butter, s&p under the skin of the breast & on top (no cheesecloth this time either), and baked/basted for about 4 hours/until the thermometer in the thigh read about 165. Then topped it with foil and finished everything else for dinner that night - it probably rested about 30-35 minutes all told.

    In short, I did the laziest turkey ever. And though I had *serious* misgivings as I cut into it, it was moist as could be, and still VERY hot.

    3 Replies
    1. re: shanagain

      What temp dis you cook at? We're not brining and I'm still trying to a moist bird...

      1. re: eriberri

        I cooked at 345, only because I couldn't decide on 325 or 350. Yay "compromise."

    2. Take your choice, but the usual temp recommendation is 169-165 degrees. You can let it cool a half-hour or so.

      Only way to get a moist breast I know of is to cook it part of the time breast side down. Turning a big bird brings out much fear and loathing, but it can be done.

      9 Replies
      1. re: mpalmer6c

        I just saw this recommended in a Southern Living article and actually snorted out loud at what would undoubtedly happen were I in charge of trying to flip a hot turkey "right side up."

        But, my dog would probably be VERY happy.

        Having said that, I'm sure it's delicious.

        1. re: shanagain

          fwiw...I was watching FoodChannel tonight and my favourite and only reason i watch, Alton Brown was on. He brined it (of course), then roasted it using one of those digital thermometers with the core. Place the probe in the large part of the breast, and roasted it to 151F. That allowed for aftercooking and resting. This way it wasnt overcooked dried out (Don't forget, the aftercooking could bring you up anywhere from 5-10 degrees.)
          (Please forgive any typos, fell down a week ago and my right hand is in a cast. (Guess who is NOT carving the bird this year.

          And the words of my uncle, I say unto you

          GET ER DONE!

          1. re: ChefBoyofDees

            I used AB's method last year and was very pleased with the results so I will be doing it again this year. But in the instructions I have, taken from the Web site last year, he says the temperature at the thickest part of the breast should be 161, not 151, degrees. Any chance that 151 is a typo? Or has he revised his recipe?

            1. re: JoanN

              He revised his recipe in a couple of ways, including making gravy with the drippings, which I plan to do this year to see if it's too salty. I've been using AB's recipe for a very long time, and everyone loves it, even a guy who hated turkey before he had mine. :)

              1. re: Morganna

                Not having much luck trying to find this revised recipe online. Do you by any chance have a link to it?

                1. re: JoanN

                  He had a few revisions in the recent foodnetwork thanksgiving broadcast where he was answering audience questions about turkey.

                  The primary things I remember are 1) cook breast to 151 then rest for half an hour, covered, 2) he used the drippings to make gravy, (he said before they were too salty, I should have tried it myself before this, and just not added salt), 3) he didn't make a heavy duty foil breast plate for the breast after reducing the oven temp to 350 degrees, 4) he used linen twine to bind up the bird, tying down the wings and legs and such into a compact bundle.

                  Those are the things that diverged from his show of years ago that I can remember off the top of my head.

                  1. re: Morganna

                    Thank you very much, Morganna. I'll add these notes to my printed recipe from last year.

          2. re: shanagain

            If you are going to start breast side down and then "flip" it, get a couple of "ov=gloves". This lets you get a good grip on the bird and keeps the dog from having a turkey dinner.

          3. re: mpalmer6c

            That's how I've cooked turkeys for over 10 years now. I saw it on an old Marthe Stewart show years ago and decided to try it. After the first time, I've never looked back. I simply rub with butter, s&p, cook for the first hour breast side down, flip and finish to 165.

          4. The best way I have found to get a non-dry breast is to buy a good quality fresh turkey from a quality (read-not Butterball) producer. For a turkey breast I roast one side up for about 20 minutes, then the other side, then put it upright on the rack; this may not be practical for a whole turkey. Take it out of the oven at 165 internal temp and let rest 20-30 minutes.

            1. We are the bird standing alone. We cook to 150 and let it rest no less than an hour and preferably about an hour 15 minutes. While I am not a fan of turkey, the turkey lovers rave on how good our turkey is. We also always get a fresh, free range turkey, so not sure how that figures into the equation.

              1. First off, there are a million ways to roast a turkey, but here are some basics:

                1) Final temp should be 165F, but take the bird out of the oven when the thickest part between the thigh and the breast reaches about 155F. Carryover cooking will bring the temp up another 10 degrees as it rests.
                2) Typical resting time before carving is 15-25 minutes. Anything longer is not really necessary.
                3) As for a non-dry breast, brining definitely helps. And laugh if you like, but roasting the bird breast-side down for the first half of roasting time totally helps.

                Here's a fairly comprehensive guide for roasting. I use it every year: