How Long to Cook a Turkey

How Long to Cook a Turkey with Payless Hardware, Rockery and Nursery

It’s that time of year again for lots of holiday cooking for your friends and family gatherings. Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner?

So, we thought we’d supply you with some useful information on how to cook your turkey even better than last year. Perhaps, you will even try smoking the bird to surprise your hungry guests with new deep, and enhanced flavors.

Before Cooking Turkey Tips Q&A

When should I purchase my turkey? 

Some people want to beat the holiday rush and would like to purchase their turkey weeks before Thanksgiving day, but the ideal way is to buy and store it no more than 5 days before you plan to cook it. 

Should I use a rub on my turkey and when should I apply it? 

Using a rub will enhance the natural turkey flavors and will provide an attractive golden brown color to the outside skin of the turkey, making it more appetizing and appealing for your holiday table guests. Try  to add the rub 10-12 hours before cooking. 
A few great pre-made rubs for seasoning turkey come from Traeger’s line of GMO-free natural rubs. Check out some of our favorite flavor profiles:

🟢 If you like savory and sweet flavors, try Traeger’s Pork and Poultry Rub that features notes of apple, honey, onion, chili pepper, and paprika.
🟠 If you like balanced flavors with a little fresh zest, try Traeger’s Chicken Rub that features notes of citrus, black pepper, paprika, and onion.
🟡 If you like savory flavors with a touch of spice, try Traeger’s Fin and Feather Rub that features notes of ​​garlic, onion, and paprika

What’s the benefit of using hardwood pellets to smoke a turkey? 

Natural hardwood cooking pellets give the meat deep and rich smoky flavors, a flavor that is hard to beat sometimes when cooking more traditionally on a regular grill or oven. 

We like to recommend Traeger’s hardwood pellets because they do not use any fillers or binders. They are made from only pure hardwood, providing a clean burn with low ash. Check out some of our popular flavors used to smoke turkey like Apple, Hickory, Mesquite, and  more. 

During & After Cooking Turkey Tips Q&A

How long do I need to cook my turkey?

See our “Turkey Cooking Times” chart below:

Turkey Cooking Times and Temperatures
Time and Temperature adapted from USDA, Cooking Guidelines.

If I smoke the turkey, what temperature should I be cooking at?

You should be using low temperatures between 165˚F - 180˚F to slowly smoke your turkey. Remember smoke time should be added separately/in addition to your regular cook time.

How much extra cooking time do I need to add if I stuff a whole turkey? 

Typically, adding about 30 minutes to your regular cook time is sufficient to ensure that your stuffed turkey is cooked thoroughly. 

How can I retain the moisture and juices in my turkey?

Try keeping your turkey covered while it’s cooking with foil or a lid. Then remember to set a timer for the last hour of cooking when you should take the cover off to create a crispy, golden skin. When you are done cooking, we recommend letting the turkey rest on its own without a cover. 

More Turkey Resources from the National Experts

First of all, did you know there is a national advocate group called the National Turkey Federation that represents and supports the turkey industry in the U.S.?  They have tons of turkey-related information on their website with more specific guidance on how to cook a turkey based on cut and desired method of cooking.

They even feature loads of delicious turkey recipes so that you can make a variety of flavorful new dishes that will keep your family from getting tired of eating post-thanksgiving leftover turkey pieces. 

Our Featured Grill & ACE Hardware YouTube video

Traeger Ironwood 650 smoker at Payless Hardware, Rockery and Nursery

Need a recommendation for a great smoker to cook your turkey on?

The Traeger Ironwood 650 is reliable, sturdy, and great for smoking so many types of meat for any occasion.

Be sure to check out Traeger’s other line of grills if you want to compare models, sizes, features and more.

Come by our local hardware store at Payless Hardware, Rockery, and Nursery to see your grill in person.

And last but not least, if you’d rather watch ACE Hardware’s Chef Jason share some of the turkey tips written above, watch this short video: