Cooking a turkey at high altitudes presents different challenges than cooking at sea level. With lower air pressure and drier climates, heating food can take longer due to the time needed to bring air molecules up to their boiling point.
It is, therefore, essential to consider the altitude when planning dinner as it can significantly impact the cooking time. This article will explain how long it takes to cook a turkey at high altitudes and provide helpful tips and advice on safely preparing the bird.
This guide will answer your question; how long does it take to cook a turkey at high altitude? With this information, you can confidently serve your guests a delicious meal without any stress that often comes with cooking in higher elevations.
How Long Does It Take to Cook a Turkey at High Altitude?
The amount of time it takes to cook a turkey at a high altitude depends on the size of the bird and how well you want it cooked. For example, a 12-pound turkey will take approximately 3–3 ½ hours to cook thoroughly at an elevation of 8,000 feet.
When cooking at an even higher altitude, such as 10,000 feet, a 12-pound turkey will take approximately four ¼ hours to cook. Additionally, if you prefer your turkey cooked to a higher temperature (165°F), it may take up to an additional 30 minutes for the bird’s internal temperature to reach that level.
When cooking at high altitudes, it is essential to note that the time and temperature recommendations on the packaging may need to be revised.
This is because temperatures and times can vary significantly due to the lower air pressure, so it’s best to take a few extra minutes when cooking at high altitudes.
To ensure your turkey is cooked safely and evenly, use a food thermometer to measure the bird’s internal temperature. To do this, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey and check if it reads 165°F before serving.
Why Does it Take Longer to Cook a Turkey at a High Altitude?
The air pressure is lower at higher altitudes, and the atmosphere is drier. This means it takes longer for the heat to reach its boiling point, making it more difficult to cook food evenly in a shorter amount of time.
Additionally, lower air pressure can cause water to evaporate quicker than at sea level. To counter this, add moisture while cooking a turkey at high altitudes by covering the bird with foil or using a roasting pan with liquids (such as stock or wine).
Tips and Tricks To Cooking Turkey At High Altitude
1. Start with a smaller bird
It is best to start with a smaller bird (under 12 pounds) at higher altitudes, as it will cook faster and more evenly. In addition to cooking faster, a smaller bird is easier to manage and requires less time in the oven.
2. Add moisture
To ensure even cooking, add moisture to the turkey before putting it in the oven by covering it in foil or using a roasting pan with liquids such as stock or wine. This will help keep the bird from drying out and will help it cook more evenly.
3. Use a thermometer
A food thermometer is the best way to ensure your turkey is cooked safely and evenly at high altitudes. Simply insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the bird and check that it has reached 165°F before serving.
4. Cook at a lower temperature
When cooking at a high altitude, it is best to reduce the oven temperature slightly (by 25°F) as higher temperatures can cause the outside of the bird to burn or cook faster than the inside. Also, keep an eye on the bird as it cooks, and check more frequently with a thermometer than you would at lower altitudes.
5. Baste often
Basting the turkey will help keep it moist and prevent drying out. This is especially important at higher altitudes, where food can dry out faster due to the lower air pressure. The key is to baste often, but not too much, so that heat stays in the oven.
6. Let the turkey rest
Once the turkey is cooked to your desired temperature, let it rest for 10–15 minutes before carving. This helps the juices redistribute, making the meat more tender and juicy. Following these tips ensures that your turkey is cooked safely and evenly at high altitudes.
How Do You Adjust Cooking Time for Altitude?
Cooking times and temperatures can vary significantly based on altitude. It is essential to take a few extra minutes to adjust for these differences when cooking at high altitudes. Also, consider reducing the oven temperature slightly and using a food thermometer to ensure your turkey is fully cooked before serving.
If you need help adjusting your cooking times and methods for high altitudes, you should consult an experienced chef or a local extension office for advice. They can suggest how to safely and effectively cook food at different altitudes.
How to Deep Fry Turkey at High Altitude?
Deep frying a turkey is not recommended at high altitudes due to the increased risk of flare-ups from the lower air pressure. If you choose to fry a turkey at a high altitude deep, you should adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly.
Lower the temperature by 25°F and increase the cooking time by 10–15 minutes for every 1000 feet above sea level. You should also check the bird’s internal temperature with a food thermometer to ensure it has reached 165°F before serving.
Does Meat Take Longer to Cook at High Altitude?
Yes, meat can take longer to cook at high altitudes due to the lower air pressure. Lower air pressure decreases the boiling point of water and causes food to cook slower and at a lower temperature. To help combat this, use a thermometer and adjust cooking times accordingly.
In addition, adding moisture to the food can help ensure even cooking. Adding stock, wine, or a roasting pan with liquid will help keep your meat juicy and prevent it from drying. Finally, basting the meat often can also help keep it moist.
Is It Better to Cook Turkey at High Temperature?
No, it is not recommended to cook the turkey at high temperatures when cooking at a high altitude. Higher temperatures can cause the outside of the bird to cook faster than the inside, leaving you with an overcooked exterior and raw interior.
It is best to reduce the oven temperature by 25°F and use a thermometer to check the bird’s internal temperature. You can also adjust the cooking time to ensure the turkey is cooked evenly and safely.
Cooking a turkey at high altitudes can be tricky due to the lower air pressure. However, to ensure your turkey is cooked safely and evenly, adjust cooking times and temperatures accordingly.
Additionally, use a thermometer to check the bird’s internal temperature and let it rest before carving. Finally, baste often and add moisture to keep it from drying out.
How many minutes per kg do you cook a turkey?
Cooking times can vary depending on the size and weight of the bird. Generally, a turkey will take about 20 minutes per kg at 350°F in a standard oven. However, cooking time may need to be adjusted for higher altitudes.
What temperature should you cook a turkey at?
The internal temperature of the turkey should reach 165°F before serving. For best results, preheat the oven to 350°F and use a thermometer to check the turkey’s temperature. This will ensure the bird is cooked safely and evenly.
What is the best way to cook a turkey at a high altitude?
The best way to cook a turkey at a high altitude is to adjust cooking times and temperatures accordingly. Reduce the oven temperature by 25°F and increase the cooking time to 10–15 minutes for every 1000 feet above sea level.
Use a thermometer to check the bird’s internal temperature and let it rest before carving. Finally, baste often and add moisture to keep it from drying out.
What is the highest temperature to cook a turkey in the oven?
The highest recommended temperature to cook a turkey in the oven is 350°F. If cooking at a high altitude, it may be necessary to reduce the temperature slightly and increase the cooking time accordingly.
Should I cover my turkey with aluminium foil?
It is not necessary to cover your turkey with aluminium foil. However, if you do so, remove it for the last hour of cooking to ensure the skin is golden brown and crisp. Alternatively, you can baste the bird periodically with a brush and pan juices to keep it moist.
Do you put water in the pan when baking a turkey?
Yes, adding water to the pan can help prevent the bird from drying out during cooking. Add stock, wine, or other liquids to keep your meat juicy and flavorful. Basting the turkey periodically is also a great way to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
Does covering a turkey slow down the cooking?
Covering a turkey with aluminium foil can help slow the cooking process; however, it may result in an overly browned or crispy skin. It is better to use a thermometer to check the bird’s internal temperature and let it rest before carving is better. Baste periodically during cooking and add moisture to keep it from drying out.