Allowing meat to rest after cooking is very important if you want it to have the best texture and flavor. Poultry, including turkey, makes no exception. Roasted, grilled, fried, smoked….. all these cooking methods can make turkey taste amazing. Regardless of how you cook it, it’s essential to know how long to let turkey rest, and we’re sharing all the details!
How Long To Let Turkey Rest
I know it’s not always easy to let turkey rest for as long as it needs. Your family or guests may be hungry.
Top that with the lingering scent of roasted turkey, and the sound of rumbling stomachs, you might be tempted to carve sooner rather than later. Don’t!
The average resting time for a whole roasted turkey is 45-60 minutes. For a smaller bird, you can get away with only 30 minutes of resting time.
If you’re dealing with a larger bird, you may need to let it rest for up to 1 1/2 hours.
Why Should You Let The Turkey Rest?
Each type of meat needs a different resting time, but the same principle applies.
As the turkey rests, the internal juices will be reabsorbed into the meat. Start slicing too soon and all those tasty juices will leak instead of staying in the meat.
The resting time will also enhance the flavor of the turkey.
Turkey is well done and safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
After you take it out of the oven, the residual heat left in the bird will continue to cook it a little more while resting. In fact, the turkey’s temperature can raise another 5-10°F after removing from heat.
This is another reason why resting time is important. Letting the turkey benefit from all that heat it accumulated results in juicier and better cooked meat.
How Long To Rest Turkey Breast, Legs, Wings, Thighs And Drumsticks
Turkey wings, thighs, and drumsticks can be served even after 5-10 minutes of resting time.
If you plan to serve them a bit later, you can loosely tent the turkey parts in foil.
However, this might make their skin less crispy, so it’s up to you if you want to make this compromise.
How Long To Rest Smoked Turkey
Smoked turkey will cool off at a faster rate, so it will need less resting time compared to a roasted bird.
Tent the turkey loosely with foil and let it rest for 15-30 minutes before carving.
For a whole roasted turkey, the longer resting period would allow you to prep or reheat the sides you want to serve next to it.
Since smoked turkey can be served much sooner, it’s a good idea to have the sides ready as soon as you take it out of the smoker.
How Long To Rest Deep Fried Turkey
A deep fried turkey can be carved after 20-30 minutes of resting. Be sure to take out of the fryer on paper towels.
This will allow the excess oil to drain and prevent the bird from becoming greasy and soggy.
How To Properly Rest A Turkey
Once the turkey reaches 165°F internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast, it’s time to take it out of the oven or smoker.
Allow the bird to rest on the rack in the pan, or on a cutting board. Refrain from cutting into the meat or piercing it during this time.
I don’t recommend covering or tending the turkey as it rests. It can result in overcooked, dry meat, and soggy skin.
Monitor the internal temperature of the turkey during resting using a meat thermometer. Ideally, the internal temperature for serving is around 140°F. If it goes below 130°F, the meat will be too cold for serving.
More Turkey Cooking Tips
Air fryer turkey burgers are another excellent recipe that will give you a yummy homemade burger patty that’s lighter than the classic beef option.
They cook fast, so I can say I’m happy to get food on the table in such a short time, especially during busy weekdays.
Next time you want to roast a whole turkey, download our free printable Turkey Cheat Sheet. It will make it super easy to calculate the size of the bird you need based on the number of servings, how to brine it, and how long to cook it!
Also, let’s not forget how important it is to have a turkey on the table for Thanksgiving dinner. It can be difficult to be the hostess so we made a free printable Thanksgiving planner to help you streamline your tasks without stressing yourself.
Still new to the kitchen and trying to figure out how to deal with turkey? Check out these posts, they might answer some of your questions:
- How Long Can You Keep Fresh Turkey Refrigerated?
- How Long Can Thawed Turkey Stay in the Refrigerator?
- How Long Can Turkey Sit Out?
- How To Keep Turkey Warm
Yes! As a general rule, all food should be refrigerated within 2 hours after cooking, including turkey.
At temperatures between 40°F-140°F, bacteria multiplies fast, so leaving food at these temperatures for over two hours can make it go bad.
Of course, during cooking bacteria is killed, but once you remove the turkey from heat, it will cool down becoming prone to spoilage.
Read our detailed guide on how long can turkey sit out for more information!
Tenting the turkey with foil will keep it warm for longer. The trade-off is the loss of crispy skin.
If you love crunchy skin, let your turkey rest uncovered.
Even when tenting, be sure to keep it loose. Wrapping the turkey too tight in foil will make it sweat and the skin will become soggy.
Moreover, when you cover the bird, the residual heat trapped inside the meat will last longer. There’s a chance your turkey will actually dry out if left covered for too long.
Thanks to the oven, there’s a better way to keep turkey warm, and we’re sharing all the details on our guide.
The color of the meat is not the best indicator of its doneness. For all poultry, the safe internal temperature is 165°F.
For turkey, you’ll need to insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and register this temperature before you take it off the heat.
Keep in mind the internal temperatures in the thighs and wings will be a little higher, around 170-180°F.
Quick refresher on how long to let turkey rest: for smaller birds around 30 minutes is enough. On average, the resting time for a whole roasted turkey is 45 minutes.
If the turkey is larger it may need to rest for one hour or even a little more. Tenting it with foil is optional. It will keep the turkey warm for longer but it also means less crispy skin.
Turkey parts like breast, legs, and wings need to rest for up to 20 minutes before serving.
It’s a good idea to monitor the internal temperature of your turkey as it rests. Carve the bird when it reaches 140°F as under 130°F it will be too cold to serve.
Take all this information into account and your turkey will turn out delicious!