How to Get Your Turkey Right

Thanksgiving is here and chef Sara Moulton answered viewers questions about how to properly and perfectly cook their turkeys. If you missed it, don't worry. Check out the chart below for the cooking times and get Sara's gravy and broth recipes.

If your turkey is 8 - 12 lbs., cook it for 2 3/4 to 3 hours if it's unstuffed and 3 to 3 1/2 hours if it's stuffed.

If your turkey is 12 - 14 lbs., cook it for 3 to 3 3/4 hours if it's unstuffed and 3 1/2 to 4 hours if it's stuffed.


If your turkey is 14 - 18 lbs., cook it for 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours if it's unstuffed and 4 to 4 1/4 hours if it's stuffed.

If your turkey is 18 - 20 lbs., cook it for 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours if it's unstuffed and 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours if it's stuffed.

If your turkey is 20 - 24 lbs., cook it for 4 1/2 to 5 hours if it's unstuffed and 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours if it's stuffed.


Also, remember, the bird's internal temperature and stuffing should both reach at least 165° F, according to the USDA.

Sara's Perfect Turkey Broth

Makes about 4 cups

The giblets and neck from one turkey (save the liver for another use, such as sautéing and serving on a piece of toast)

4 cups chicken broth (good quality canned is fine)

1 small onion, coarsely chopped


1 small carrot, cut in half

1 celery rib, cut in half

1 small parsnip (optional), cut in half

1 thyme sprig

1 parsley sprig

1 Turkish bay leaf

4 cups cold water

Combine the giblets and neck with the chicken broth in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down immediately and simmer, skimming and discarding the scum (this is nothing scarier than the protein solids from the giblets and neck, but it will cloud the broth if you leave it in) that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon. After about 20 minutes, when there is no more scum rising to the surface, add the remaining ingredients and bring the liquid back to a simmer. Simmer the broth, adding water as necessary to keep all the ingredients submerged in liquid, for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Strain and skim off any fat that settles at the top (You can use that fat for your pan gravy).

Sara's No-Fail Pan Gravy

I recommend making ½ cup gravy per person, since it is Thanksgiving. You need that much gravy to pour over everything, and for leftovers. So here is the formula:

For each cup of gravy, you will need 1 cup turkey or chicken broth, 1 ½ tablespoons drippings, fat or butter and 1 ½ tablespoons flour (preferably the instant kind, Wondra, which Granny favored because it didn't cause lumps in the gravy).

Here is a sample recipe for 4 cups gravy serving 8 people:

6 tablespoons fat from drippings in roasting pan, and/or butter or a combination
6 level tablespoons flour
4 cups turkey or chicken broth

After you have taken your turkey out of the oven, transfer it to a platter and cover it loosely with foil. While it is resting, put the roasting pan on the stove. Transfer whatever liquid is in the roasting pan to a glass measuring cup and let it settle. The fat will float to the top. Skim off the fat and measure it. (Save the liquid, as well, to add later.)