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Nov 24, 2011 11:54 AM

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.