How Long to Let Turkey Rest?


The secret of any great turkey recipe is in the details. And one of the most important details is how long you let your turkey rest. We will address everything you need to know about allowing the turkey to rest in this complex guide. 

Before slicing the turkey, you want to allow it about 45 minutes to rest. You might give it more or less time but it is important to not slice it too soon. Your turkey will not get cold if you give it a maximum of one hour of resting time before cutting.  

If you don’t allow your turkey to rest it will not reach the fullest potential of its taste. So, don’t rush into eating it, and consider the resting time as part of your recipe.

Also Read: How Much Turkey Breast Serving Per Person?

Can You Let a Turkey Rest Too Long?

To decide if you can let the turkey rest too long, we need to address, how long the turkey stays warm once you cooked it. You don’t want to eat or serve guests cold turkey. Thus, this is an important aspect to consider.

When you want to know how long your turkey stays warm you have to consider the size of the bird you are cooking. If you cook it entirely, it will stay warm for longer. If you cook parts of your turkey separately, you will notice that it will cool down a lot faster as the pieces are smaller. 

Turkey should be served at a temperature of a minimum of 130 degrees. Anything cooler than this temperature makes the meat cold. Some people prefer their turkey hotter though and this is fine as long as it is not too hot to be eaten. 

Let your turkey rest too long if its temperature goes below 130 degrees. This can happen in a time frame from 30-90 minutes. The smaller the turkey, the faster it will cool down. Naturally, if you are making a big turkey, it will stay warm for a longer time as well. 

The room temperature is also important. If your kitchen is cold, your turkey will naturally cool down faster. Equally, if it is warmer than 75 to 78 degrees, your turkey will stay warm for a longer time. 

As a general rule, you should avoid letting the turkey rest for more than 1 hour. Ultimately, you don’t want to wait until your meal is cold to enjoy at its fullest taste. However, the more you prepare turkey, the more you will discover about cooling time by yourself. 

How Long to Let Turkey Rest After Smoking?

If you decided to smoke your turkey rather than cooking it in a traditional fashion, you should know that the resting time frames will change.

Your smoked turkey will cool down faster than the oven-cooked turkey, so you will not be able to give it as much time to rest as you would to a traditionally cooked turkey. If you smoke your turkey, you want to give it anywhere between 15 minutes and 30 minutes to rest. 

If you are afraid your turkey will cool down faster than you expect, you can slightly cover it with aluminum foil. There is no need to wrap it in this foil entirely.

Cover it with aluminum foil or you can even use a towel. This will give the turkey the time to get the taste you want and be delicious by dinner.

Extra tip: Put your turkey with the breast down while you let it rest. This will make the breast of your turkey juicier and therefore, tastier as gravity helps in the process. 

Also Read: Can You Cook Frozen Ground Turkey?

How Long to Let Turkey Breast Rest?

Turkey Breast

If you decided to bake just turkey breast, you will have to alter the resting time as well. Pieces of turkey breast will be smaller than the entire turkey so you will not have to give it up to one hour to rest. 

If you baked or even fried turkey breast, allow it 15 or 20 minutes to rest appropriately. More than that will turn your turkey breast cold and not as delicious as you would love it to be.

However, this time is perfect for allowing the turkey to settle its flavor and keep a taste that will make you and all your guests happy. 

To let turkey breast rest, you need to remove it from the oven and put it on your kitchen counter or table. You might even cover it with foil, without necessarily wrapping it in the foil.

If you don’t have aluminum foil, use a towel to allow the breast to absorb those delicious juices and maintain a firm texture. 

Do You Rest a Turkey Covered or Uncovered?

When it comes to covering or not your turkey while it is resting, opinions are split. Some prefer to cover the turkey with aluminum foil or a towel while others consider it better to leave it uncovered.

If you cover your turkey make sure you don’t wrap it tightly in the foil or towel. You don’t want it to sweat while resting. Place the cover over your meat and wait for the resting time to pass. Check on it from time to time to make sure it didn’t cool down too much.   

If you decide to leave your turkey uncovered, you will end up with a crunchier crust. If you want a crunchy turkey crust, don’t worry about covering it.

You don’t want the moisture that comes with covering the meat, so put it on the kitchen counter and wait for it to rest for as long as you consider appropriate.

How Long Should Turkey Sit Before Cutting?

Slicing your turkey is the key part of the meal. You will need a sharp knife to make perfect turkey slices. But besides the tools and cutting technique, you also need to give the meat the time it needs to get to the flavor you want.

This is the resting time frame. Once the resting time is over, you can cut your turkey and serve your guests. 

If you cooked a whole turkey, 1 hour is enough time to wait before cutting it. Cut it faster as well if you prefer to eat it warm.

If you smoke your turkey make sure you don’t give it more than 30 minutes so it will not get too cold. If you cooked turkey breast, 15 to 20 minutes should be enough time to let it sit before you cut and serve it. 


Turkey is one of the most appreciated types of meat worldwide. It is traditional in America but other cultures enjoy it just as much. This is why cooking your turkey is very important.

You want to cook it the right way as well as let it rest properly. Follow this guide and get the delicious turkey you want to impress your friends and family with.

Make sure you take into account your personal preferences when you decide how you prepare your turkey and how long you let it rest. 

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