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Turkey Cooking Times

Estimated cooking times for UNSTUFFED turkey

The good news is, while most grass-fed meats require different cooking temperatures and times than conventionally raised meats, pasture-raised turkeys vary little in terms of cooking requirements from their conventionally raised counterparts.

  • Use the same cooking temperatures you´ve always used in your family recipes and be sure to use a good meat thermometer.
  • Pasture-raised turkeys tend to be lower in fat than other turkeys, so it could cook a bit faster.
  • If you plan to stuff your turkey, add at least 30 minutes to the cooking time and make sure that your stuffing reaches 165° F before you remove it from the bird.
Size of Turkey
10 to 14lbs
15 to 17lbs
18 to 20lbs
21 to 22lbs
23 to 24lbs
Estimated Cooking Time
2 to 3 hours
3 to 3½ hours
3½ to 4 hours
4 to 4½ hours
4½ to 4¾ hours
How to Roast a Pasture-Raised Chicken

The pastured chicken is a very different animal than the battery (or caged) chicken, because it has more musculature. Obviously, an animal that has had access to exercise and can scratch in the dirt will have a very different kind of meat because it will have very different leg, thigh and breast meat structure. The recent craze for high-roasted chickens (450° for a shorter period of time) is fine for a battery or caged chicken but will not work for a pastured bird; the muscles simply freeze up and you end up with a chicken-shaped hockey puck. For the pastured bird you need to cook "low and slow".

  • First, you will want to slowly defrost the bird. Two full days in the refrigerator will do the job nicely.
  • Then wash the bird, remove any giblets etc., from the body cavity, and (if necessary) trim the neck bones back to the main body of the bird.
  • Dry the bird inside and out, and preheat the oven to 300°.
  • Use a large roasting pan and a rack, and place the bird either breast up or back up, depending on your preference.
  • At this point you can decide how you will season the bird. You can use fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc.), salt and pepper, garlic, and a quartered lemon in the cavity. You could also use onions and almost any other spices you might desire.
  • After stuffing the interior cavity, tuck the legs under the fat flap or tie them up, and then dress the outside of the bird with olive oil or butter and salt and pepper. You can also dust with other ground spices, from a South Asian mix to humble paprika.
  • Put the bird in the preheated oven and forget about it for 2 hours.
  • You do not have to baste (you can, of course, if you want) and some people prefer to turn the bird over midway through cooking.
  • The bird is finished when the leg bones are flexible and the thigh juices run clear after puncture with a sharp knife. This usually takes two hours.

TIP: If you want a crispier skin you can turn the heat up to 400° for the last 20 minutes of the cooking time. Remove the bird from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

TIP: You can place potatoes and root vegetables in the roasting pan with the bird, serve with a fresh salad and you have a simple, healthy and delicious dinner.

Basic Chicken Stock
  • 4 to 5lbs chicken parts, including backs and wings, rinsed and dried
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 medium to large carrot, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 10 to 12 cups cold water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
    • If you wish to make a richly colored golden-brown stock make sure the chicken pieces are very dry. Put them in a stockpot with the olive oil and onions and set over medium heat. Brown slowly, turning frequently, until all the chicken and the onions are golden, 20 to 30 minutes.
    • If, on the other hand, you want a clear, light chicken stock, omit this first step and simply put the chicken pieces in a stockpot.
  • Add the garlic, carrot, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, cinnamon, water, and salt and pepper.
  • Set over medium-low heat and slowly bring to a simmer.
    For the clearest stock, carefully skim the foam as it rises to the top.
  • When the foam has ceased rising, cover the pot and simmer very slowly for at least 1.5 hours, or longer if necessary (chicken should be so thoroughly cooked that it is falling apart).
  • At the end of the cooking time, strain the stock through a double layer of cheesecloth or a fine-meshed sieve.
  • Discard the solids, which will have given up all their savor, in any case.
  • Taste the stock and add more salt and pepper if you wish, but keep in mind that if stock is to be reduced later on it will concentrate the salt.
  • Transfer the stock to the refrigerator to let the fat rise and solidify, after which it can be removed easily with a slotted spoon. Once the fat has been removed the stock can be frozen for long keeping.

Note: The cinnamon will add a delicious Mediterranean flavor to this soup but can be omitted if the stock is to be further reduced to be an all-purpose chicken stock base (called a demi-glace)

If you do want to make a demi-glace, cook the skimmed and de-fatted stock over a very low flame for a very long time, until the stock has reduced to one-quarter or less of its original mass. To use, defrost and add water to bring the stock to the concentration you prefer to use. You can also use small blocks of demi-glace to add flavor to sautes and stir-fries as well as a classic French base for sauces.

*The most important thing to remember when cooking a stock is that you NEVER let it come to a boil. Always make sure it stays on a very low simmer and barely a bubble for the demi-glace making. If it comes to a boil it will become cloudy.*

This recipe comes from a wonderful and healthy cookbook called The Essential Mediterranean by Nancy Harmon Jenkins, although it has been altered slightly from the original. It is in print and available at Jessica's Biscuit.

Herb-Roasted Turkey with Giblet Gravy

Reprinted with permission from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook:
Healthy Cooking and Good Living with Pasture-Raised Foods
by Shannon Hayes (Eating Fresh Publications, 2004)

Giblet Broth

Make giblet broth one day ahead, if possible. If not, remove the giblets, and make the broth while roasting the turkey as directed below.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Turkey giblets, including the neck, gizzard, heart, and liver
  • 1 medium carrot, scraped and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ quarts chicken broth (or turkey broth, if you have on hand)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme, or 3 tablespoons fresh
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley, or 2 tablespoons fresh, finely minced

    Heat olive oil in a small soup pot. Rinse giblets and sauteé in the oil until they are lightly browed, about 4−5 minutes (can be done in batches). Add the carrot, and sauteé 1 minute longer. Add the onion, and sauteé until translucent. Reduce the heat to very low. Cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth, thyme, and parsley, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes longer.

Herb Butter

Enough to accommodate up to 20 pounds of turkey

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender
  • ¼ pound unsalted butter, softened, or 1 cup olive oil

Combine all in a food processor and puree until smooth.


  • 1 turkey
  • 3 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, scraped and coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 6 springs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325°F and place the oven rack in the lowest positionRinse the turkey, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub ¼ of the herb butter under the skin on the breast. Rub the remainder all over the bird − on the back, on the breast, on the legs, and on the thighs.Set the turkey, breast side down, on a well-oiled rack in a large roasting pan. Toss half the chopped onions, carrots, and celery into the cavity of the bird.Add half the fresh herbs and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Scatter the remaining vegetables and herbs in the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour 1 cup of water over the vegetables (not on the turkey). Roast the turkey for the estimated amount of time dependent on weight, basting every hour. Early in the roasting, before you have pan juices, use the remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter to baste the bird. If the vegetables in the pan look dehydrated, periodically add another ½ cup water until the turkey starts releasing pan juices. Halfway through the estimated cooking time, pour the reserved giblet broth into the bottom of the pan; carefully turn the bird breast side up. Continue roasting, basting regularly with the pan juices, until the thigh registers 170°F to 175°F. Remove the bird from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for about 30 minutes while you make the gravy.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pour the pan juices into a large measuring cup or bowl. Strain and discard the vegetables and herbs. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly, until it turns a deep caramel color. Pour in all but 1 cup of the pan juices. Keep stirring the mixture until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer the gravy for about 5 minutes, until it is slightly thickened. Be sure to stir the mixture frequently. Set the roasting pan over two stove burners. Add the wine to the pan, and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Add the gravy, and continue cooking until the sauce is reduced by almost one-third (approximately 5 minutes). Add the remaining broth and chopped giblets, and return the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Adjust the seasonings for salt and pepper. Serve gravy alongside the carved turkey.

Delicious Duck

roasted duckA message from one of our customers:

Delicious!!! Here's the recipe I used. I didn't use the basil, instead used rosemary - its growing in my garden; and didn't use the orange juice - didn't have any. It was amazing and sooooo easy! The juice at the bottom of the roasting pan was great over rice.

Gobble Gobble Meatballs

A message from one of our customers:

I have made this recipe 3 times now using your ground turkeyGobble Gobble Meatballs − Christmas, New Years, and game night with neighbors. It is a huge hit, thanksgiving in one bite. I make turkey gravy to dip the meatballs as well − from a restaurant called the Meatball Shop in NYC.