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My turkey cooked in half the time... Guesses why?

I put my turkey in at 12:30, and now a little over two hours later, it's reading 160 F. It's 14 pounds, and we cooked with without stuffing on a rack in a 350 degree oven. It was brined and has herb butter under the skin. Everything we read said that it would take 3 to 4 hours! Does anyone know why this happened.
As a side note, it looks and smells absolutely gorgeous, the skin is brown etc. The only problem is that the side dishes are all still cold... Oh well!

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  1. Have you checked the temperature of your oven recently? If it was 400 instead of 350 two hours would have been about right (and the hotter oven does brown the skin better). I think four hours would have been way too long -- that estimate must have come from an older chart when they were still cooking turkeys to 180. I'm planning 3.5 hours for my 16 pounder but I wouldn't be surprised if it was less.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      My 17-lb free range heritage turkey -- stuffed! -- cooked on 2.5 hours on my Weber. Turkeys do cook faster on a Weber because it's basically a convection oven, plus it's directly on the grill, not in a pan, which maximizes airflow around the bird. Still, it was even faster than I expected. The only problem with it cooking so fast is that it didn't get much smoke flavor. Delicious anyway.

    2. Is it a free-range bird? Free-range or pastured farm-bought birds are less fatty and will cook a lot more quickly.

      1. I heard brining the bird makes it cook faster as well.

        1. brining and cooking without stuffing, and having a higher temp than expected would all cause it to cook faster than expected. Brining really does speed up the cooking process a lot, though not usually by half. Ruth is right, it would have been terribly overcooked at that weight for that amount of time. Enjoy your dinner!

          1. The traditional cooking charts are always horribly wrong. For a brined or injected bird, I always ballpark about 10 minutes per pound, and that seems about what you got. Remember, chickens are only 15 minutes per pound and they are much smaller; as the birds get bigger, the time per pound gets less.

            2 Replies
            1. re: acgold7

              3 hours was a high estimate, 4 ridiculous 350 is a high oven, even if yours is correct.
              next year plan 10 minutes/lb unstuffed

              1. re: acgold7

                Yep. On top of that there are all sorts of factors that any particular guideline doesn't take account for.

                Cook a turkey sitting low in a deep pan and it will take faaaar longer than cooking a turkey sitting high in a shallow pan.

                A convection oven can make a huge difference. The size of one's oven and the bird's position in it can make a real difference. As others pointed out, brining, a bird's age, and whether or not it was free range can all make a difference.

              2. I FIGURED IT OUT. I cut open the bird and it was raw. My thermometer was off I guess. Oh well, we cut it apart and put it in the oven and it was actually quite nice.

                1 Reply
                1. re: luciaannek

                  I was afraid you were going to say that. It happens to us all at least once.

                2. I had a 12 lb "all natural" fresh turkey (not organic, but not injected and antibiotic free, etc). I used the same directions I always do, and checked two different time charts. Started it out breast down @ 350 and planned to flip it and turn the heat up after 2 hours, to brown the breast. I checked the temp when I flipped it and it was DONE! So, I stuck it under the broiler for 5 minutes or so to brown the breast, then took it out. It was absolutely perfect! But, it was done at least 30-45 minutes before I expected. I have a brand new oven and checked the temp with two different thermometers before embarking on my holiday meal prep. Everything else cooked in normal time (bread, dressing, sticky pudding).

                  1. Same happened to me! Dry "brined" and the freaking red button popped up in about 90 minutes! 30 minutes at 425, then 325....Thermometer is reading 185!!!! Arghhhhh! Ive been rubbing that stupid thing like Kobe beef for three days!

                    1 Reply