This was a question that came up during our weekly live chat, where we help you level-up your skills in the kitchen. Here’s how long it takes to roast turkey legs, thighs and breasts.
The “minutes per pound” formula is an unofficial calculation that it should take roughly 13 minutes per pound to finish roasting a turkey in a 350-degree oven. While this can help to give you an idea of how long it will take, note that there are a lot of variables that can impact the actual cook time, such as whether the turkey is stuffed, trussed, completely thawed and/or sat at room temperature before roasting.
But to the reader’s question, this calculation is meant for only whole birds, not separate parts.
Explore our best turkey recipes and tips
With poultry in particular, it’s best to check that it has reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees with a thermometer before serving to make sure it’s safe to eat. (Dark meat is more forgiving and often better when cooked to a higher temperature.) But a time estimate is always helpful to get an idea of when something might be done. The reader had the right idea to search for recipes online, but may have missed some of ours.
Here’s guidance on how long it takes to roast turkey legs, thighs and breasts:
- Legs. The Sheet Pan Harissa Turkey Legs With Sumac Sweet Potatoes recipe pictured above indicates that it should take 35 minutes at 400 degrees followed by a few minutes under the broiler.
- Thighs. In staff writer Becky Krystal’s Cider-Braised Turkey Thighs With Potatoes and Apples, four bone-in, skin-on thighs are cooked for 45 to 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven after a quick sear on the stovetop.
- Breasts. In her guide on how to cook a turkey breast, food writer and cookbook author Katie Workman said a 6-to-7-pound turkey breast should be cooked at 450 degrees for 30 minutes before reducing the temperature to 350 degrees and continuing cooking for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. But note that turkey breasts can vary greatly in size, so “adjust your cooking times up or down depending on the size of the breast,” she wrote. Whether it contains a bone also makes a difference, as boneless cuts will take less time than bone-in cuts. “If your breast is boneless, you’ll want to think about adding 15 to 18 minutes for each additional pound. For a bone-in breast, add 22 to 24 minutes per pound.”
When evaluating recipes, one of the things to look for is a time estimate alongside some other cue — which in the case of turkey and most other meats is usually an internal temperature reading — for determining when something is done. If one of those is missing, I would look for another recipe.