Hosting a Crowd? Try These Tips for Cooking Two Turkeys at Once

Consult these expert tips for cooking two turkeys at one time (and make-do solutions for when you just can't cram both birds in the oven).

Every year, millions of Americans gather around the Thanksgiving table to carve the show-stopping centerpiece: a juicy roasted turkey. If you have a large family, preparing a 30-pound turkey might seem like the best solution to feed everyone—and of course, have some extra for leftovers—but there's an alternative to buying a giant-sized bird: cooking two turkeys at once.

According to Nicole Johnson, director of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, customers frequently ask how to cook two turkeys at the same time and in the same oven. Why attempt what might sound to some like a crazy Thanksgiving stunt? Johnson says it can be easier for some cooks to handle a pair of smaller birds than one large one. Plus, you'll end up with two wishbones, and who doesn't love that? Whether your grocery store simply ran out of larger birds or you want to try two different turkey recipes this year, we've assembled the expert advice you need to safely cook your turkeys together.

Maple Sage Turkey
Andy Lyons

How to Cook Two Turkeys Together

When buying two turkeys for a single-oven approach, Johnson advises selecting two smaller turkeys weighing between 9 and 12 pounds each. Here are some tips to remember when cooking two turkeys at one time:

  • Choose the right roasting pan: For a 9- to 12-pound turkey, choose a shallow roasting pan no more than three inches deep; place a rack in the bottom of the pan to elevate the turkey above the pan drippings. Two compact 13x9 roasting pans ($17, Amazon) should allow both birds to fit in the oven. If you'd rather use one larger pan, Johnson says to place the turkeys side by side, leaving an inch of space between the two. (Don't just wing it or assume your pans will fit. With so many different ovens out there, Johnson recommends planning ahead. Make sure the turkeys will fit on the pans you choose and that the pans will fit in your oven.)
  • Don't double the roasting time: Even though you'll have two birds cooking, this doesn't mean you should double the cooking time. If you have two 12-pound turkeys, roast them for the same amount of time as if you only had one, which is 2¾ to 3 hours at 325°F. And don't forget your thermometer ($22, Target)! Your turkey is done when it registers 175°F in the thigh and 165°F in the breast.

Alternate Ways to Cook Two Turkeys

It's hard enough to prepare everything in time for dinner—especially if you're making your own Thanksgiving sides and pies—even without a fully-occupied oven. If you don't want to devote precious oven space to two turkeys, consider less traditional methods for delivering that juicy bird to the table. Our Test Kitchen recommends giving a smoked turkey or grilled turkey a try. Some swear by the deep-fried turkey, which requires special equipment ($78,, but will produce a succulent result. Using an electric roaster is also an option. For just a bit more white meat, try cooking extra turkey breasts, instead of an entire additional bird.

Since you're serving two turkeys, this is your chance to experiment with different ways of seasoning and stuffing them. Why not test-run a new turkey rub? Or give brining a try? After you've had your fill of leftovers, freeze the turkey—along with any extra portions of stuffing and pie—so you can enjoy Thanksgiving all over again when a craving strikes.

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