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Turkey Dinner Calculator

This calculator requires the use of Javascript enabled and capable browsers. This script creates a guideline as to quantity or amount of turkey, stuffing and gravy needed for a specified special dinner. Enter the number of adults that are having dinner and the number of children that are to be fed. Select the quantity of leftovers you desire and the anticipated appetites of those dining. Then click on Calculate. The approximate amount of turkey is calculated along with the appropriate quantity of stuffing (dressing) and gravy. There is also tabled information below on thawing and cooking, as well as the thawing calculators.

Please keep in mind that all ovens are not the same. Some ovens heat more than others producing faster, hotter cooking. Use an oven thermometer to determine the accuracy of YOUR oven. Also if you use a thermometer in the turkey, it should attain a temperature of 185ºF (degrees) internal heat, minimum. To determine how long to cook your turkey by a calculator (high tech turkeys prefer that...), try our Turkey Cooking Time Calculator.

Required Data Entry
Turkey Dinner Quantity Calculator
Number Of Adults
Number Of Children
Leftovers Desired Plenty None or Not Many

Turkey Needed Pounds
Stuffing Needed Cups
Gravy Needed Ounces
Version 1.2.6

Thawing and Cooking Information

Refrigerator Thawing

According to the USDA and many poultry suppliers, placing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator is the only reliable and safe method for thawing and it is the only method of thawing that is recommended. The turkey should be kept in its original wrapper during the thawing process and it should be placed on a platter to catch any juices that may leak from the package to avoid possible contamination to other food in the refrigerator. Thawing the bird in the refrigerator may require several days, especially if the turkey is a large size, but it is absolutely the safest method for thawing. The cool temperature of the refrigerator (usually no higher than 40ºF) discourages the growth of harmful organisms in the turkey as it thaws. An approximate 24 hours for every 5 pounds should be allowed to properly thaw the turkey. The required time may vary because of the individual temperature settings of different refrigerators.

Recommended Refrigerator Thawing Time

Approximate Refrigerator Thawing Time
WeightApproximate Time
8 to 12 pound frozen turkey Allow 2 to 3 days
13 to 16 pound frozen turkey Allow 3 to 4 days
17 to 20 pound frozen turkey Allow 4 to 5 days
21 to 24 pound frozen turkey Allow 5 to 6 days
Calculated Refrigerator Thawing Time
Refrigerator Thawing Time Hours
Refrigerator Thawing Time Hours Minutes

Cold Water Thawing (Not Recommended)

Thawing a frozen turkey in cold water is another defrosting method that has been used for years, but with increased awareness of illness due to bacterial growth, it is generally not recommended by the USDA or most of the poultry suppliers. There is a high probability that bacteria may rapidly multiply in thawed areas near the surface of the bird while the interior may still be frozen.

If you absolutely must thaw the turkey with cold water, there are a few steps that can be taken to make it as safe as possible:

As with thawing in the refrigerator, the bird should be kept in its original wrapper. If the original wrapper has any compromises, punctures or tears in it, the turkey should be placed in another plastic bag and sealed to limit contact with the air and water. The turkey should be placed breast side down and it should be completely covered with water. The water should be changed every 20 to 30 minutes. Cold water thawing is much faster than thawing in the refrigerator (usually 8 to 10 times faster), but it can be annoying having to change the water every 30 minutes, especially when thawing a large turkey. At least 30 minutes defrosting time per pound should be allowed when using the cold water method. Once the turkey is thawed, it should be cooked immediately.

Cold Water Thawing Time

Approximate Cold Water Thawing Time
WeightApproximate Time
8 to 12 pound frozen turkey Allow 4 to 6 hours
13 to 16 pound frozen turkey Allow 6 to 8 hours
17 to 20 pound frozen turkey Allow 8 to 10 hours
21 to 24 pound frozen turkey Allow 10 to 12 hours
Calculated Cold Water Thawing Time
Cold Water Thawing Time Hours
Cold Water Thawing Time Hours Minutes

Microwave Thawing (Unsafe)

Some people have used a microwave oven for thawing meat and while this method may be risky for thawing red meat, it is downright unsafe for thawing poultry. While waiting for the bird to fully defrost, bacteria will grow quickly in areas where the turkey is already defrosted. Do NOT do this!

Anticipated Cooking Times

How long does it take to cook? Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness as is indicated in the Internal Temperature column below. This is only a guide so that you know approximately how long it will take to cook the turkey. ALWAYS use a meat thermometer for safety! Cooking time will vary by different ovens and whether or not the turkey is stuffed. Remember to leave time for the turkey to stand before carving. It is suggested that browning takes the last 15 to 45 minutes of cooking time, depending on the size of the turkey and the type of oven. Make sure that the internal temperature has been reached before browning.

Approximate Unstuffed Turkey Cooking Time
WeightApproximate Cooking Time in 325° OvenInternal Temperature (ºF)
6 to 8 pounds2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours185º
8 to 12 pounds2 3/4 to 3 1/4 hours185º
12 to 16 pounds3 1/4 to 4 1/4 hours185º
16 to 20 pounds4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours185º
20 to 24 pounds4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours185º

Approximate Stuffed Turkey Cooking Time
WeightApproximate Cooking Time in 325° OvenInternal Temperature (ºF)
6 to 8 pounds3 to 3 1/2 hours185º
8 to 12 pounds3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours185º
12 to 16 pounds4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours185º
16 to 20 pounds5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours185º
20 to 24 pounds6 1/2 to 7 hours185º

Note: Additional safety recommendations:

NEVER thaw turkey at room temperature. Harmful bacteria will grow rapidly creating toxins that may still be present after the turkey is cooked. Frozen turkey that has been thawed should not be frozen again until after the meat is cooked in order to reduce the risk of harmful bacterial growth. Stuffing is a source of potential bacteria during cooking. It is suggested that cooking the dressing in a separate container is safer than stuffing the turkey and cooking it within the turkey. A frozen pre-stuffed turkey should not be thawed before it is cooked because bacteria can multiply rapidly in the stuffing while the turkey is defrosting.

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