How To Cook a Half Turkey

The first time I cooked a half turkey, it felt like a revelation.  “You mean, the delicious taste of roast turkey, with ample meat for 4-6 people, in more or less the same time it takes to cook chicken?  I should do this every week!”

Half-turkeys include one breast, one thigh, one drumstick and one wing — that is, they are sliced down the breast bone to be a half of a whole turkey.  Roasted on their side (skin side up, bones down), they look pretty impressive in their roasting pan, and cook much more quickly than a whole bird.

A Half Turkey, covered with shmaltz and ready to roast over a bed of onions.

Half Turkeys generally weigh between 5-10lbs, and we recommend you allow about 10min/lb at 325F.  You can follow any turkey recipe with a half-turkey, just remember that it will cook more quickly than you expect — possibly even under an hour, so don’t let it go too long without checking.  A meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast should be 165F (meat will continue to rise an additional 10F once you take it out.

If you’re having a large crowd for Thanksgiving, consider choosing a Whole Turkey and a Half Turkey, rather than just one very large bird.  You’ll have the (medium-sized) Whole Turkey to show off and carve at the table (if you must), and the half-turkey can stay in the kitchen, ready to replenish the serving platter.

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