Eating turkey is already a part of American tradition.
A celebration such as Thanksgiving Day would never be complete without it, it is the main dish, and we can say that eating Thanksgiving turkey is the climax of a celebration.
Much as we want to, however, we rarely have it in celebrations, maybe once or twice a year, for turkey is genuinely reserved for exceptional celebrations. Preparing and cooking a turkey is meticulous, adding to its being unique.
But how do we cook a turkey? Do you cook a turkey at 325 or 350ºF in Oven?
There are specific pros and cons involving cooking turkey at said temperatures. But before discussing them, how do you cook a turkey?
Related Reading: Want to know why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day?
Nobody wants cold turkey, literally and figuratively, and that is why you cook it at a particular temperature, but before discussing it, what are the things you must remember?
The weight of the turkey will impact everything; from preparation to roasting, a lightweight turkey needs thawing for at least a day.
While a heavy frozen turkey, like those weighing more than twenty pounds, might need six days, you may need between a day and a week to prepare them.
The pounds would also impact the cooking itself. Depending on the weight, you may need at least four hours to roast it, while those weighing around 10 to twelve pounds may need more than two hours.
That is because, in cooking, you need to mind the pound-per-minute ratio: Generally, you have 15-20 minutes of cooking per pound; that is the basics.
But you can have it shorter or longer, depending on whether you want the turkey roasted, well done, or medium rare.
Oh, we forgot that those minutes per pound ratios are for those unstuffed turkeys.
If you have a stuffed turkey, things would be different; you may need 20-25 minutes of cooking per pound to ensure that what you have is a well-rounded, delicious one.
There are several advantages if you cook the turkey at this temperature, whether stuffed or unstuffed.
At this temperature, you can have turkey meat that is still juicy without sacrificing the skin’s crispiness, the brown texture of the turkey, and the overall tenderness of the meat.
Other than that, if you are using a smoker, you allow the turkey to absorb a lot of smoke flavor.
It is so because cooking at a lower temperature means you have to cook it longer, thus increasing the propensity of the meat to absorb the smoke.
A longer cooking time means the thickest meat part up to the bones, and the stuff inside will be cooked well because of prolonged exposure to a high temperature.
The result would be a more delicious taste for your turkey.
Those lighter, weighing below twenty pounds, are the best candidates for this temperature. The heavier the turkey, the greater the minutes per pound ratio and the longer it will take you to cook it.
But not only that, a heavier turkey means more meat, more extensive mass, and less efficiency of 325 in cooking. It is because it has to deal with a lot of meat.
It is the same thing with stuffed turkeys. Ideally, stuff will not impact the effectiveness of 325 to give a meatier taste to your cooked turkey.
But if it is heavier and has a lot of stuff, it may take longer, impacting the taste.
A longer cooking time is the usual drawback when you cook at a lower temperature; your favorite turkey is no exception. It means you have to wait longer if you cook at this temperature.
Another drawback is that it might have some juice on it. Some people like it, but others don’t.
Others will want real, cooked, well-done meat for their turkey and stuff.
If that is your preference, you better go for a higher temperature.
If you want a heavier roasted turkey that weighs more than twenty pounds, it would be best to roast them at around this temperature.
Because it has to deal with far more meat, you need a higher temperature to ensure that all parts are cooked and roasted evenly.
But even if you have one weighing around ten to twelve pounds, it may be ideal too to roast them at 350; it has several advantages. One is that you can roast turkey quicker due to having a higher temperature.
Besides that, you can have a crispy skin for the turkey and more cooked meat. Cooking at 350 is ideal for those who want their meat well done and rather not have any juices on it.
Is There Any Ideal Weight When Cooking at 350?
The heaviest turkey will need more roasting, so you need a higher temperature. If you want to roast your turkey faster, those light ones can be put into the oven and roasted at this temperature.
The problem is that if you roast a lighter turkey at this temperature, the result might be a darker brown color and not a golden brown one. It means that it is thoroughly cooked and may not have juices.
It will also make for crispy skin, but it may be crisper than what you prefer. If you are roasting turkey at this temperature, checking the internal temperature halfway into cooking would be best.
That will ensure that you maintain your preference concerning the turkey’s texture, crispiness, and meatiness.
One downside of cooking at a higher temperature is the possibility of overcooking the turkey.
That is a real possibility, more so if you are cooking it at 350 and at the same time cooking it longer, and you can have highly dark meat.
By looking at the internal temperature, you can check whether the inside and thickest meat part is cooked or raw.
The turkey breast meat should be at around 160 degrees, for it may rise to 165 f once you remove it from the oven.
The turkey leg should be at 180 degrees before you rest it from heat.
Cooking or roasting turkey might require some preparation, but it is never complicated. You need to spend time preparing and be attentive to a few details so that you can enjoy your Thanksgiving Turkey.
In answering the question of do you cook a turkey at 325 or 350, it will boil down to preference in taste. But if you do things correctly, you will have a delicious one.