Skip to Content

How Long To Let Turkey Rest

How Long To Let Turkey Rest

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey. When people hear the word turkey, they either perk up in anticipation or frown because they were subjected to eating the driest turkey on earth. 

Even though you can cook the turkey to the correct internal temperature, you can still end up with a dry turkey.

If you ended up with a dry turkey and you know you did everything right, you’ve probably committed one of 2 fatal flaws.

You did not let the turkey rest before cutting it, or you did not let the turkey rest long enough. 

What Happens if You Don’t Let the Turkey Rest?

The primary reason for resting turkey is to help the juices flow back in. While the turkey is cooking, the moisture is pulled from the center of the bird to its surface.

Once the turkey is cooked, these juices need time to redistribute back into the bird. This is why you rest the turkey.

If you do not allow the turkey to rest, the juices will flow out onto your butcher block or cutting board instead of remaining in the bird. 

Ultimately, if you don’t let the turkey rest, you will end up with a dry, tough turkey. 

Does Turkey Continue To Cook While Resting?

Turkey is just like any other meat, so yes, it does continue to cook while it rests.

This is why you should remove the turkey from the oven or electric smoker when it hits an internal temperature between 155°F-160°F. 

Yes, I know turkey is technically cooked at 165°F, but as I mentioned above, the turkey’s temperature will keep rising as it rests. The turkey’s temperature can rise as much as 10-15 degrees as it rests, so there is no need to worry that you will be feeding your guest undercooked turkey.  

Do I Rest Turkey in Its Juices?

No, you should not let the turkey rest in its juices, especially if you intend to tent it with foil while it’s resting.

The juices will cause the turkey to steam even more, ruining its crispy skin.

It’s best to pour the turkey juices into a small pot. You can use the turkey’s cooking juices to make a flavorful gravy. 

How Long To Let Turkey Rest 

How long to let turkey rest is the question of the day. The answer is 45 minutes. If your turkey is smaller, allow it to rest for 30 minutes. 

Yes, I know; 45 minutes seems like waiting forever for the turkey to rest, especially after you’ve put in so much work to cook the perfect turkey.

However, compared to brisket, which has to rest for an hour, 45 minutes is not that bad. 

Remember, the average turkey is a big bird. So, you need to give it time to work its magic so the juices can travel back into the meat. 

While the turkey is resting, you can cook your sides or finish off other dishes.

You could also use the resting time to create a beautiful gravy using the turkey’s cooking juices. 

How Long To Let Turkey Rest After Smoking

Instead of baking your turkey the old-fashioned way, you can smoke it in your offset smoker.

If you do not own a propane smoker, you can turn your kamado grill into a makeshift smoker and use the charcoal snake method to smoke the turkey.

You must remember that the resting time will change since you are smoking the turkey.

The resting time will actually be shorter than if the turkey were cooked in the oven. Smoked turkeys should rest for 15-30 minutes.

 If you are worried the turkey will cool before you carve it cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Do not wrap the turkey tightly. 

Place the turkey breast down into a clean pan before covering it loosely with foil. This little gravity trick will yield a juicier turkey breast. 

Can You Let a Turkey Rest for Too Long?

In short, yes, you can let the turkey re4st too long. Many factors impact the rate at which the turkey cools down. 

First, when resting turkey, you must consider the size of the bird you are cooking.

For example, if you are cooking a whole turkey, it will stay warm longer.

However, if you are cooking turkey breast or turkey legs, they will cool down faster than the whole bird. 

Turkey must be cooked to 165°F. However, as it sits, the turkey’s temperature will decline.

Once this temperature falls below 130°F, it will be cold. The turkey can fall below 130°F within 30-90 minutes. 

You must also consider the room’s temperature when resting turkey. 

If you live in a cooler or colder temperature or your kitchen is cool, the turkey will cool down faster.

In contrast, if your kitchen is warmer than 75°F-78°F, it will stay warmer longer. However, you cannot let the turkey sit out for more than 2 hours. 

If the room’s temperature is above 190°F, the turkey can only sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

After 1-2 hours, the turkey will become filled with dangerous bacteria rendering it unsafe to eat. 

All in all, you do not want to serve your family cold turkey, so do not let it rest too long. 

How To Keep Turkey Warm While Resting

Keeping turkey warm is essential, especially if it cooks faster than you thought it would.

Serving cold turkey would be like serving your guest a bowl of rocks. Simply unpleasant. 

If your turkey is done cooking 1 hour in advance, do not cover it. Let the turkey rest for 1 hour. 

If you are still not ready to serve the turkey after 1 hour, you can cover it with foil and place a thick, clean kitchen towel or blanket on top of the bird to make sure it stays warm.

This will prevent the bird from overcooking since the initial burst of heat will be released before the bird is covered. 

Final Thoughts

Turkey can be moist and delicious as long as you let the bird rest. Let your turkey rest for 30-45 minutes, and you will never have to deal with a dry turkey again!

You might also be interested in the following: