Turkey Cooking Times: How Do You Know if It’s Done for Your Christmas Dinner?

At Christmas dinner, you don’t want to end up like the Griswolds in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
In the clip above, Clark, played by Chevy Chase, carves open the holiday turkey only to discover it is overcooked- to say the least. The rest of the scene shows the family crunching on mostly bones, the sad remnants of what should have been a juicy bird.

Don’t repeat this dreaded mistake and give your loved ones a succulent turkey that is cooked to perfection. Follow the simple steps we’ve outlined below and enjoy your Christmas dinner without worrying if your turkey is over or under-cooked.

One common mistake when checking to see if a turkey is cooked, is looking at the color of its skin. This is a misconception- that just because the skin is browned it is cooked.

Of course, high temperatures cook the outside first, but it in no way means the inside of the bird is ready.

The best -and most error proof- way to see if your turkey is cooked is to buy a meat thermometer.
Insert it in the thickest part of the breast.
To be extra careful, get a second reading by inserting it into the thickest part of the thigh. If it reads 165 degrees, it is ready to take out.

This easy-to-read chart gives approximate cooking times in keeping with the size of your bird.

cooking a turkey, when is turkey ready