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How to Tell When Turkey Is Done – Breast, Bacon, Burgers & More

How to Tell When Turkey Is Done – Breast, Bacon, Burgers & More

Last Updated on 22nd December 2021 by

Can you trust your nose to tell you when a turkey is done cooking? When you smell the lovely scent wafting through the kitchen and the rest of the house, does that mean the turkey has finished cooking? It would be a shame to take it out of the oven, slice it open and find that it didn’t cook all the way through.

How to tell when a turkey is done? There must be some method to do that, and there is. I will share some ways you can check to see if your turkey has finished cooking and how to tell if it needs to go back in for a while.

You should know that cooking a whole turkey will take some time, often hours in a conventional oven. This is not a quick meat to cook when you are talking about roasting an entire bird. If you are cooking smaller pieces, they can be done in a few minutes, depending on the method you use, but a whole turkey is a different situation entirely.

Why does anyone have trouble telling when the turkey is finished? Can’t they just read the instructions on the packaging that usually accompanies a turkey for how to tell when the turkey is done? You could, but that’s not always the most helpful solution when you are not sure how long it takes to cook the turkey. The instructions that come with some turkeys will tell you how long to cook the turkey for, but they usually requires you to multiply the weight of the turkey by a base cooking time, like to cook the turkey for so many hours per pound.

Doing math is not everyone’s strong suit, so it is understandable that sometimes people will make mistakes when figuring out how long to cook a turkey for. They may not remember how long the turkey is supposed to cook for, or they may make a miscalculation. That happens more often than you might like to think, so it can be very helpful to know how to tell when turkey is done cooking.

How to Tell when Your Turkey Is Done

The best way to tell when your turkey is done cooking hands down is to use a thermometer. Check the internal temperature of your bird to tell if it is cooked all the way through. You don’t want it to be cold or raw in the centre, and you can avoid the tissue by using a thermometer. Just stick it into the bird and check the temperature to make certain that it is 170 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast meat area. The thigh should read 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This will tell you whether the turkey has cooked thoroughly.

When you stick the turkey with the thermometer, you need to plunge it into the centre of the meat. The deeper you can go and the closer to the middle of the meat you can get, the more accurate your reading will be. The surface temperature of the bird will be higher than what it is in the middle, and you are checking to ensure that the turkey cooked all the way through.

The reason I like the temperature check for how to tell when the turkey is done is that it does not mutilate the bird. I know a lot of people will cut their chicken or turkey open to tell if it is cooked. That works, for sure, but it also leaves you with a damaged looking turkey. Why not use a thermometer that only leaves behind a tiny puncture hole that most people will not even notice? You can keep your bird intact and keep it looking nice and still check the temperature accurately.

Another reason to use the thermometer to tell if the turkey is done cooking is because it is accurate. You can smell the bird and cut it open to try to tell if it is cooked thoroughly, but those are not surefire ways to tell if it is cooked all the way through. You may think the turkey looks cooked, but until you test it with a thermometer you will not know for sure.

How to Tell when Turkey Bacon Is Done

Not all turkey is the same, and one of my favourite kinds of turkey meats is turkey bacon. Turkey bacon is a quick and simple food to cook up. The thin strips means that the bacon cooks in just minutes instead of ours. How do you tell when it is done cooking, though?

When turkey bacon is ready to eat, it should be crispy and a little darker and browner than it was when you started cooking it. The bacon will cook in just a few minutes on a medium heat. Turkey bacon should also curl slightly when it is done cooking, letting you know that it is ready to eat.

How to Tell when Ground Turkey Is Done

Ground turkey is easy to cook as well, and you can just wait in the frying pan on the stove until it is cooked. But how do you tell if it is done and ready to eat? When ground turkey is done cooking, there will be no more pink left on it. The turkey will be brown all over, and that’s your visual clue that it can be taken off the stove.

I like testing meat with the thermometer when I am in doubt at all. That helps me to be sure that it is done cooking and thoroughly heated all the way through. For ground turkey, you can use the thermometer and plunge it into the middle of the meat. The reading should come out 165 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter if it is ready to eat.

How to Tell When Turkey Burger Is Done

Turkey burger is another kind of turkey dish that I really love, and I like turkey burgers with a side of fries as a healthier and leaner alternative to beef burgers or hamburgers. How to tell when a turkey burger is done?

When you are cooking it on the grill or in a frying pan on the stovetop, the doneness is determined the same way. You just look at the colour to see if it is brown all over. It doesn’t get dark brown like beef when it is done cooking, but turkey will change colour to get browner than it was. It starts out pink and then browns as you cook it.

You can also use the thermometer to check. I like to do that just to be on the safe side and avoid any possible bacterial issues, as thoroughly cooking your food kills the bacteria and makes it much safer to eat. If the meat is undercooked, then there is always a risk of food poisoning and bacterial infection. The thermometer should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit when the meat is done cooking.

There you have it- a few ways to cook turkey and how to tell when it is done for each of them. It’s important to cook your food completely, especially if you want to reduce the risk of food poisoning and want the texture and taste to come out right. Food that is cooked properly and all the way through will have a consistent, pleasant texture to it. Food that is undercooked may be soft or cold and not have the right crispiness to it that cooked meat meat will.

If in doubt about any kind of turkey you are cooking, be sure to look up a temperature guide to determine what the correct temperature should be when it is done cooking. Then, use your cooking thermometer to check the turkey to ascertain if it is done cooking. This is a little extra work and an additional step beyond just eyeballing the turkey, but it is very helpful in avoiding food poisoning.

Make sure your food turns out great and is safe and edible by checking the temperature and ensuring it is done cooking before you eat it. It’s better to wait a little longer and make sure the food has cooked all the way than to rush through the cooking process and regret your decision later on.


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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!