How to Tell if a Turkey Is Done Without a Thermometer

No meat thermometer? No problem. Use this hack to see if your turkey is cooked.

When checking your turkey's temperature using the recommended meat thermometer method, you're looking for an internal temperature of 165 F all the way through to know that your bird is cooked and ready to eat. But if you find yourself without the right tools on Thanksgiving, don't panic: All you need is a fork.

Fork Method

To find out if your turkey is done without a thermometer, pierce it with a fork in the mid-thigh muscle, explains Nicole Johnson, the co-director of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. "When the juices run clear, and no longer reddish or pink in color, it's a good indication that your turkey is done."

Since imperfect ovens can cause certain parts of the turkey to cook faster than others, Johnson suggests checking for doneness in multiple areas of the bird to be sure that it's truly done cooking and safe for your family to eat. Johnson also stresses that, while this technique will help guide you, the most reliable way to check a turkey's temperature is with a meat thermometer. It's also best to make sure it's fully thawed before you start cooking to ensure it cooks evenly.

Cooking Times

The amount of time it takes to cook a turkey completely depends on its weight and whether you decide to stuff it or not. Lighter birds, around 8 to 12 pounds, will cook for around three hours unstuffed, but will take an additional 30 minutes with stuffing. Heavier turkeys, anywhere from around 20 to 24 pounds, could take up to five hours to cook unstuffed.

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