How Long To Let Turkey Rest After Cooking

How Long To Let Turkey Rest After Cooking

Allowing your turkey to rest is as important as cooking it, crucial even so. It determines its tasty flavor because failure to do so makes the juice in your turkey flow out on the board when you slice it.

Two things happen: Your bird becomes dry and you lose the taste. You don’t want to lose all that juice that makes it yummy.

Now let’s see what we’ve put together to help you achieve the rest your bird deserves.

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How Do You Rest A Turkey?

Once you’re certain your bird is well-cooked, remove it from the oven or stove and place it on a board carefully. Making your bird rest is making it thicken and making the juice saturate.

This is why you should never skip this process.

What’s The Best Resting Time For Cooked Turkey?

30 to 45 minutes is enough time for your cooked bird to rest, an hour at maximum. This is what we suggest.

Luckily, it gives you time to roast potatoes and make gravy. You don’t want to get worked up. You can even start clearing the dishes while you wait.

There are four things you need to consider when letting your cooked turkey rest:

  • The size of your bird
  • The cooking method you used
  • The internal temperature of your bird
  • Your room temperature.
How Long To Let Turkey Rest After Cooking
Image: @lreading20 via Twenty20

What’s The Size of Turkey?

The bigger your bird, the longer the time needed for it to rest. If your bird is small, 30 minutes would be fine, but if it’s a big one, then you should do nothing less than 45 minutes.

What Cooking Method Did You Use?

Is your bird roasted or smoked? If your bird is roasted, then it needs more time. You should allow it to rest for nothing less than 45 minutes. If you have a smoked bird, 30 minutes is fine because it takes a shorter time for the juices to come together.

What’s Your Room Temperature?

The room temperature is important too. Your bird cools faster in a cold environment. If your resting area is warmer, then you need a longer resting time. If your kitchen or dining area is below 90°F, then 30 to 40 minutes is fine.

What’s The Internal Temperature Of Your Turkey?

Some people like to have their bird rest for longer hours because they believe the longer it stays, the better the taste. Well, it’s fine, especially if you don’t mind eating it cold, but you have to be sure you’re still eating healthy.

According to the United States Agriculture Department (USDA), any perishable food that stays longer than two hours after cooking should be thrown in the garbage. This is because, at 40-140°F (called the ‘danger zone’), bacteria thrive more and put your food at risk.

This is why you need to monitor your bird’s internal temperature. You can set a thermometer to check while it’s at rest. Once the temperature is coming to the danger zone, you have to stop the resting process.

Can Your Turkey Rest For Too Long?

There can be more than one answer to this question.

Yes, you can rest your bird for too long if the temperature drops to the danger zone (40-140°F) because it begins to get cold. No, if there’s a way to keep your bird warm and maintain a safe temperature.

In any case, following what the USDA said, we advise that you allow your bird to rest for not more than an hour (two hours at most) because at this time, you can be sure the juices have been reabsorbed and it’s also safe from bacteria.

How Long To Let Turkey Rest After Cooking
Image: @tastyfood via Twenty20

Do You Cover Your Turkey When Resting?

People have different reasons for doing things and covering your bird isn’t an exception. The decision to cover your turkey depends on how long you want your turkey to rest and the type of texture you want your turkey to have.

Now let’s see the answer on both sides.

Do You Want It To Keep Longer Than 45mins And Need It To Be Warm?

If you’re one of the people who believe a longer resting time gives it a sweeter taste, you can cover your bird loosely with foil and then with a thick kitchen towel if you want to keep it warm, peradventure you want to stay for as long as 2 hours. You can do this if you don’t want to feast on bacteria.

Meanwhile, you should note that your bird continues cooking when you just bring it out of the oven. When you put a thermometer after bringing it out, you’ll realize the temperature keeps rising for about minutes, 45 minutes. So you shouldn’t cover it immediately.

You should allow it to rest for about 45 minutes before covering it with the foil and thick kitchen towel. This way, it wouldn’t overcook because it has released the initial heat.

Do You Want Your Turkey Crispy Or Tender?

It is best to keep your bird open while resting to maintain the crispy feeling when you touch it and even when you bite. When you cover with a foil, especially if you do it tightly, it becomes moist and soggy.

On the flip side, you should cover your bird if you prefer a tender bite that has a moist and melting feeling in your mouth. There are individual differences you know.

Final Thoughts

It is important you allow your turkey to rest if you want its taste to be at its maximum potential. Other things being equal, 40 minutes is a good time for your bird to rest, be it big or small.

Your bird can rest for too long if the temperature has dropped to between 40°-140°F because, at this time, it is easier for bacteria to form. The decision to cover your bird depends on you:

  • The texture you want your bird to have (crispy or tender)
  • How long do you want to keep your bird warm?

You don’t cover your bird immediately no matter what, in order to prevent it from overcooking.

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