Cooking a Turkey

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To demonstrate transient heat transfer, a turkey, which is modeled by a sphere, is cooked in a standard oven. Use sliders to set the mass of the turkey, oven temperature and cooking time. The green dashed line represents the minimum safe temperature for the center of the turkey and the red dashed line represents the maximum acceptable temperature of the outer surface of the turkey. The blue curve represents the temperature profile. When the temperature at the center of the turkey is above the green line, the pop-up timer (green and white) on the turkey goes off. If the center temperature goes above the red line, the turkey catches fire. Use the button to change the units from °C and kg to °F and lbs.

Contributed by: Rachael L. Baumann and Nathan S. Nelson (September 2016)
Additional contributions by: John L. Falconer
(University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



A turkey is modeled as a sphere. The temperature of the turkey at a distance from its center at time is:



where and are the oven temperature and temperature of the raw turkey (), is the thermal diffusivity (), is mass (kg), is density (), is time (s) and is the calculated radius.

is the root of , where is the heat transfer coefficient of air () and is the thermal conductivity ().

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this Demonstration.


[1] D. Allan. "Turkey Time," (blog). (Sep 23, 2016)

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