The turkey is the star of your meal. Once it’s in the oven, you can work on the supporting dishes, but first you need to take care of your VIB (very important bird)! This timeline will help you take Thanksgiving dinner from oven to table without a hitch, so let’s get started.
First, remember that turkey is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. The time it takes to reach this temperature will depend on the size of the turkey.
Our timeline begins six hours before dinner, but you many not need the full six hours, so here’s how to customize the timeline to fit your needs and deliver dinner on schedule.
- Determine how long your turkey will need to roast using our Poultry Roasting Timetable.
- Add one hour to the roasting time to account for prepping the turkey and allowing it to rest — about 30 minutes before and after roasting.
- Subtract the total turkey cook-time — roasting time plus one hour — from the time you want to serve the meal to determine when you need to start cooking.
For example, if you are cooking an 8-12 pound turkey, it will need 2.75-3 hours to roast, plus an additional 1 hour for prep and setting up. This means you should start the timeline 4 hours before dinnertime. Get it? Got it? Good!