Foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey recipe that packs all of the flavor and juiciness you expect from the perfect roasted turkey, with none of the stress! Step by step for how to cook the perfect turkey.
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Course: Main Course
- 1 Is it better to cook a turkey at 325 or 350?
- 2 What is the secret to a moist turkey?
- 3 How do you cook a turkey without it drying out?
- 4 Should I cover my turkey with aluminum foil?
- 5 EASY THANKSGIVING TURKEY (BEST NO-FAIL RECIPE)
- 6 Should you take turkey out of fridge before cooking?
- 7 What is the best temperature to cook a turkey?
- 8 More Ways to Sneak Flavor into Your Stuffing
- 9 The BEST Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (How to cook a turkey)
- 1 12-20 pound turkey
- 1 onion , peeled and quartered
- 1 lemon , quartered
- 1 apple (your favorite kind), quartered
- .75 ounce container fresh rosemary *
- .75 ounce container fresh thyme *
- .75 ounce container fresh sage *
For the herb butter:
- 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6–8 cloves garlic , minced
- fresh chopped herbs
If the turkey is frozen: Thaw in the fridge, 24 hours for every 5 pounds of Turkey. I like to give myself 1 extra day, just to be safe.
Remove the thawed turkey from the fridge 1 hour before roasting, to let it come to room temperature.
Adjust your oven rack so the turkey will sit in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Make the herb butter by combining room temperature butter, minced garlic, salt, pepper, one tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary, one tablespoon fresh chopped thyme, and half a tablespoon of fresh chopped sage. (You’ll use the remaining fresh herbs for stuffing inside the cavity of the turkey)
Remove turkey from packaging and remove the neck and giblets from the inside the cavities of the bird. (Reserve them for gravy, if you want, or discard them). Pat the turkey very dry with paper towels.
Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Stuff it with the quartered lemon, onion and apple and leftover herbs.
Use your fingers to loosen and lift the skin above the breasts (on the top of the turkey) and smooth a few tablespoons of the herb butter underneath.
Tuck the wings of the turkey underneath the turkey and set the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan*.
Microwave the remaining herb butter mixture for 30 seconds (it doesn’t need to be completely melted–just really softened). Use a basting brush to brush the remaining herb butter all over the outside of the turkey, legs and wings.
Roast at 325 degrees F for about 13-15 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature (inserted on middle of thigh and breast) reaches about 165 degrees.
(I remove the turkey from the oven once it reaches 160 degrees. Then, I tent it with foil, and let it rest on the counter. It will continue cooking under the foil, to reach 165 degrees F.)
***Check the turkey about halfway through cooking, and once the skin gets golden brown, cover the top of the turkey with tinfoil, to protect the breast meat from overcooking. Alternately, you could start cooking the turkey with it tented in foil, then during the last hour or so of cooking you can take the foil off to let the turkey brown.
Allow turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/how-to-carve-a-turkey/
Reserve any drippings and juice remaining in your roasting pan to make turkey gravy.
Herbs: to substitute dried herbs, use 1 teaspoon dried herbs per 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs.
Tips for covering with tinfoil: Start with the bird uncovered. Once the skin gets golden brown, tent the bird with a large piece of tinfoil. If you have a roasting pan, you can use the lid to the roasting pan instead.
For Disposable Roasting Pan: Place fresh chopped vegetables on the bottom of the pan to act as a rack to elevate the turkey. Use 4-5 ribs of celery and 4 large carrots, roughly chopped. The veggies will add great flavor for your dripping to use for gravy however I don’t recommend eating them or using them in gravy.
For An Electric Roasting Oven: directions stay the same!
Convection Oven: You can use the same method to cook the turkey in a convection oven, just check the temperature sooner (start checking after 2 hours) as it will cook faster.
How to Carve a Turkey photos and Video.
Is it better to cook a turkey at 325 or 350?
Do I Cook a Turkey at 325 or 350 Degrees? Though “low and slow” is a good rule for cooking a bird all the way through without burning it, there’s no hard-and-fast rule. All of our temperature guides assume you’re cooking at 325, but you can cook it a little warmer for roughly the same, or just a little less time.
What is the secret to a moist turkey?
- Choose a fresh turkey instead of a frozen one. …
- Roast two small turkeys rather than one large one. …
- Brine the turkey. …
- Rub soft butter under the skin. …
- Truss loosely, or not at all. …
- Roast the turkey upside down at first. …
- Don’t overcook it. …
- Let the turkey rest before carving.
How do you cook a turkey without it drying out?
“When roasting the whole bird, the key is to cook the legs longer than the breast,” Tommy says. “Once the breast is cooked, remove the bird from the oven, remove the legs and then put them back in. This stops the breasts drying out.”
Should I cover my turkey with aluminum foil?
EASY THANKSGIVING TURKEY (BEST NO-FAIL RECIPE)
- 12-18 pound turkey (*see notes below about using a larger turkey) fully thawed
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- 1 lemon quartered
- 1-2 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1-2 sprig fresh thyme
- 1-2 sprig fresh sage
- salt and pepper
- ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
Vegetables Under Turkey (optional, but recommended)
- 1 onion peeled and quartered
- 3 ribs celery roughly chopped
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
Allow your turkey to come to room temperature by removing it from the fridge 1 hour before roasting. Then, remove the giblets.
Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C) and pat the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels. Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Then fill it with the onion, lemon, and fresh herbs. If your turkey is smaller, don’t overfill the cavity as you do want some airflow.
In a small bowl, make the herb butter by stirring the softened butter, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme together.
Loosen the skin of the turkey gently by sliding your fingers underneath. Then rub about 1/3 of the herb butter between the skin and turkey breasts.
Rub the remaining herb butter all over the entire outside of the turkey.
Place the turkey on a roasting rack or on top of a bed of vegetables (if you don’t have a rack), or both! Tuck the wing tips under the turkey to prevent them from burning.
Place the turkey in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 158°-160°F. You don’t need to baste the turkey, but do keep an eye on it after it’s about 75% done. If you notice the skin browning too quickly, you can place aluminum foil on top. To verify the temperature, place a thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh or breast. The turkey will continue to cook once it’s removed from the oven and will rise in temperature to 165°F, after it’s rested.
Let the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, making for a deliciously juicy turkey. To keep the turkey warm, you can cover the turkey with aluminum foil on the counter.
Carve and serve the turkey. And make sure to save the juices from the pan to make turkey gravy!
- You can certainly use a turkey larger than 18 pounds, but you may need a little more herb butter and you’ll need to cook it longer. If your turkey is less than 12 pounds, you may have a little extra herb butter, so you might want to reduce the quantity.
- It’s common for ovens to vary by up to 25 degrees, with some cooking hotter and others cooking cooler (my oven cooks cooler). So it’s best to verify how your oven cooks (before the big turkey day), by purchasing an oven thermometer and testing.
Should you take turkey out of fridge before cooking?
Get your turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it. You’ll get less shrinkage when it goes into a hot oven. Always preheat your oven for at least 20 minutes before cooking your turkey.
What is the best temperature to cook a turkey?
Stick with a temperature of 325°F, which ensures the turkey gets cooked all the way without becoming overdone.
More Ways to Sneak Flavor into Your Stuffing
Alliums: Add quartered onions, shallots, leeks, or garlic cloves for a delicious, earthy aroma. Fruits: Insert quarters of apple, lemon, orange, lime, or even grapefruit to add moisture and brightness to the turkey.
The BEST Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (How to cook a turkey)
We’ve got the Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe for you. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to cook a moist and tender turkey.
- 12 pound turkey
- salt and pepper to taste
- 14.5 ounces chicken broth can also use water or turkey broth
- 4 tablespoons butter
Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
Remove wrap from thawed turkey, and then remove neck, giblets, and gravy packet if one is included.
Place turkey into roasting pan breast side up.
Tuck turkey wings under and tie or clamp legs together.
Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the turkey.
Dry outside of turkey with a paper towel (don’t wash or rinse your turkey because you will contaminate your sink. The bacteria will die when it cooks in the oven).
Baste turkey with melted butter. Salt and pepper all over.
Insert meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Meat thermometer should reach between 165 and 180 degrees and the juices should run clear.
Add broth into the bottom of the pan. (Water will also work.)
Tent foil over the turkey as it cooks. Cook in preheated oven for 3 1/2 – 4 hours (depending on the size of your turkey – see notes below to know how long to cook your turkey for).
After you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. This gives you time to get a few more things done for the big meal.
Keep turkey covered with foil to keep warm while it rests.
We used a 12 pound turkey and it fed about 12 adults. If feeding children, you would be able to feed more people.
Here is how long to cook your turkey based on weight:
- 8-10 pounds 3 to 3 ½ hours
- 10-14 pounds 3 ½ to 4 hours
- 14-20 pounds 4 ¼ to 4 ¾ hours
- 20-22 pounds 4 ½ to 5 hours
- 22-24 pounds 4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hours
Other seasonings you could use on turkey: thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, sage, and poultry seasoning.
About 30-40 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the foil tent to let your cooked turkey skin turn golden and a little crispy. You’ll have a moist and tender bird underneath the golden skin.