Although microwaving a turkey isn’t the ideal way to cook poultry, the USDA approves of the cooking method. It cooks quickly and is extremely easy.
Disasters happen, ovens break and some people don’t have the luxury of owning an oven (college students, we’re looking at you,) so in a pinch, a microwave can actually save the day and deliver a turkey that is surprisingly edible. Just be sure you read your microwave’s manual to ensure it can handle a small turkey (8 to10 pounds.)
It’s worth prefacing that we had very low expectations for a microwaved turkey, but, surprisingly, the end result was a moist and flavorful bird.
A small, thawed turkey
Microwaveable oven bags
Microwave safe plate
Herbs and spices
Start by cleaning the bird and removing its giblets. Pat with paper towels — make sure the bird is completely dry. Season with salt, herbs and spices as you wish.
After your turkey is seasoned, place it into a microwave-safe oven bag, leaving a small hole for steam to escape. You can microwave a whole turkey using saran wrap instead, but we recommended using one to ensure it’s evenly cooked.
Place the bagged turkey onto a microwave safe plate.
Place your turkey into the microwave, making sure that it does not touch the top or sides. Cook it on 50 percent power for about 10 minutes per each pound. We used a 12-pound turkey, and it took about two hours to cook.
It’s important to note that all microwaves are different, so it’s best to consult your microwave manufacturer’s manual if possible.
If your microwave doesn’t automatically spin, you’ll need to manually rotate the turkey every 15 minutes. Be careful with handling — it will get hot.
Carefully remove your turkey and check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Turkeys should be cooked at 165 degrees fahrenheit before consuming. You can also tell it’s done when you cut into it and the juices run clear, not pink.
Let your turkey rest for about 20 minutes, carve it and enjoy.
This article originally published in November 2014 and was updated in November 2021.