When Your Turkey Reaches This Internal Temperature, It's Officially Done

If you ever plan on cooking a turkey in your lifetime (around Thanksgiving, maybe?), there's one important piece of information you'll need to know: the internal temperature that a turkey needs to reach in order to safely be consumed. Not knowing the answer to this important question could result in serving up a food-borne illness instead of a delicious meal, and no one wants to give their family or friends food poisoning, so let's get to it.

Here's everything you need to know about temperature when cooking turkey.

At What Temperature Should You Cook a Turkey?

Roasting your turkey in the oven? Set it to 325°F. That's the temperature recommended by both the turkey experts at Butterball and the CDC.

You can check out the helpful calculators on Butterball's website or this table from the CDC to find out exactly how long you should cook your turkey depending on its size and whether or not it's stuffed.

At What Internal Temperature Is a Turkey Done?

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends that your turkey reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F during cooking to be safely consumed. This is based on the fact that risky bacteria and salmonella cannot withstand temperatures of 160°F for more than 30 seconds.

Butterball's experts recommend checking the turkey 30-60 minutes before the estimated finish time, then about every 15 minutes after that. If you have an oven-safe thermometer, you can stick it into the thickest part of the thigh and leave it there for the entire time the turkey is cooking.

In Which Part of the Turkey Should You Check the Temperature?

The CDC recommends taking the temperature in three different places on the bird to make sure it's totally done and safe to eat. Using a meat thermometer and avoiding touching the bone, take readings in these three places:

  • The thickest part of the breast.
  • Where the body and thigh join, aiming toward the thigh.
  • Where the body and wing join, aiming toward the wing.

The CDC recommends all three places reach at least 165°F before you remove your turkey from the oven. If you stuffed your turkey, you should also insert a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and ensure that reaches 165°F, too, per the CDC. Then let it rest for 20 minutes before removing the stuffing and carving the bird.

— Additional reporting by Haley Lyndes