Is the “minutes per pound” formula for roasting turkey parts the same as the formula for a whole turkey? (So, if you have 10 pounds of parts, is the timing roughly the same as for a healthy turkey?) I’ve searched online and can only find recipes that tell you to roast the parts until the breasts/thighs reach the desired temperature, which leaves me wondering when to I’m supposed to start checking.
Turkey cooking times for breasts, legs and thighs
This was a question asked during our weekly live chat, where we help you level up your skills in the kitchen. Here’s how long it takes to roast turkey legs, thighs, and breasts.
The “minutes per pound” formula is an informal calculation that it should take about 13 minutes per pound to finish roasting a turkey in a 350-degree oven. While this can help give you an idea of how long it will take, note that there are a lot of variables that can affect the actual cooking time, such as whether the turkey is stuffed, tied, fully thawed, and/or sitting at room temperature. Before grilling.
But for the reader’s question, this account is for whole birds only, not for separate parts.
Discover the best turkey recipes and tips
For poultry in particular, it’s best to make sure it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees using a thermometer before serving to ensure it’s safe to eat. (Dark meat is more forgiving and often does better when cooked at a higher temperature.) But estimating time always helps to get an idea of when something can be done. The reader had the right idea to search for recipes online, but he may have missed some of our recipes.
Here are guidelines on how long to roast turkey legs, thighs, and breasts:
- Legs. The harissa sheet recipe for Turkey Legs with Sumac Sweet Potatoes shown above indicates it should take 35 minutes at 400 degrees followed by a few minutes under the broiler.
- Thighs. In Becky Crystal’s book, Apple Cider Braised Turkey Drumsticks with Potatoes and Apples, four bone-in, skin-on thighs are cooked for 45 to 50 minutes in a 350-degree oven after a quick sear on the stove.
- Breasts. In her guide on how to cook a turkey breast, food writer and cookbook author Katie Workman says a 6- to 7-pound turkey breast should be cooked at 450 degrees for 30 minutes before reducing the temperature to 350 degrees and continuing to cook for about 1 1 hour and 15 minutes. But note that turkey breasts can vary widely in size, so “adjust your cooking times up or down depending on the size of the breast,” she wrote. Whether it contains bone also makes a difference, as boneless cuts will take less time than osteotomies. “If your breast is boneless, you’ll want to consider adding 15 to 18 minutes for each additional pound. For a bone-in breast, add 22 to 24 minutes per pound.”
When evaluating recipes, one of the things to look for is a time estimate combined with some other signal — which in the case of turkey and most other meats is usually an internal temperature reading — to determine when something is done. If one of those is missing, I’ll look for another recipe.