Cooking a full turkey involves some preparation and timing. Poultry is a type of meat that cannot be eaten if it is undercooked. Determining the correct cooking time for a turkey in the oven can be difficult. Undercooked turkey is inedible and unsafe. Overcooked turkey is dry. A turkey time calculator is a chart, application, or device that helps cooks to find the correct amount of time that a turkey should spend in the oven in order to cook thoroughly without becoming dry or burnt. Turkey time calculators are much more accurate than the plastic popup thermometers that come pre-inserted into most birds.

Turkey time calculators use a few different variables in order to determine how long a turkey must cook in the oven. Some calculators require a large amount of information while others are very simple. The most basic property of the turkey that must be known is the weight. Larger turkeys require significantly more time to cook than smaller birds. The temperature of the oven and the defrosted state of the turkey are other important factors that some calculators require. The way that the turkey has been prepared can affect cooking times. Brined turkeys require slightly more time than normal. A bird that has been stuffed requires more time because the stuffing must heat before the inner meat cooks.

Turkey time calculators provide a general guideline for how long the bird should cook. Ovens have natural differences in heat distribution that could affect the time. Convection ovens take less time than conventional ovens. Electric ovens might require frequent rotation of the pan in order to distribute heat evenly. The turkey will need to be measured for doneness with a meat thermometer or probe that is inserted into the thigh. The thermometer must not touch the bone. All turkey needs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be considered safe to eat. Turkey that will have to rest for 20 or more minutes before being served will increase in temperature slightly after being removed from the oven if it is tented with foil.

Many turkey time calculators assume that the bird has been prepared properly. One of the most important things to do is to defrost a frozen turkey before cooking. This could take anywhere from one to four days depending on the size of the turkey. Defrosting should be done slowly in a refrigerator or in a bath of cold water that is refreshed occasionally. Turkey should never be defrosted at room temperature because bacteria will form in the meat. Although it is possible to cook a frozen turkey in the oven, the results are often poor and inconsistent.