Perfect Roast Turkey

5 from 2 votes

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Get perfectly Roasted Turkey every time with my simple how to roast a turkey guide! You’re 5 ingredients away from Thanksgiving bliss.

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without turkey! Am I right or am I right? Roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving is like the ultimate job. A lot of pressure rides on you. You either give everyone food poisoning or you dry that sucker out. I’m sure we’ve been there, done that. Well, believe it or not, there is a happy medium! You can get a juicy, thoroughly cooked bird that will make people sing praises to a deity and most likely give thanks. Let’s get right into it!

Roast Turkey

Thawing Your Turkey

The first step of every Roast Turkey Recipe is to thaw it so “How do I get my turkey to thaw quickly? I forgot to pull it out of the freezer! Help!”

To all the people out there who plan on eating Turkey for Thanksgiving aka all of you: leave enough time for your bird to thaw completely before Thanksgiving! Don’t forget! There are a few ways you can go about doing this:

  1. Stick your bird in the fridge 4-6 days in advance, depending on how big it is. Refrigerator thawing will take 24 hours per every 4 pounds of turkey. After the turkey is thawed, it can stay in the fridge for another 4 days.
  2. The other way you can thaw your turkey is by using the cold water method. Just stick your bird in the sink {still in its packaging} and cover with cold water, breast side down. This thawing method will take 30 minutes per pound.

Use a Meat Thermometer

After preparing your turkey, you worry right? “How do I know my turkey is done? How do I not dry out the white meat? Help!”

Believe it or not, a thermometer is how you get a perfect bird! There is a small window of time where everything is cooked safely and is still juicy! Why is it so hard to achieve?

Well, white meat always will cook first because it only needs to reach 170 degrees. The dark meat, however, has to get to 175-180 degrees. So what’s a girl to do?

Two-thirds of the way through your cooking time, tent the top of the turkey with foil. That will redirect the heat back into the thigh meat and ensure a juicy bird.

And FYI, if you stuff your bird, your stuffing needs to get to 165 degrees.

That’s basically it! Pretty easy tricks, right?

How Long to Roast a Turkey

So if you are looking for solid estimates for how long you should roast your turkey for I have a great resource for you. But always check your meat with a thermometer. No one wants food poisoning.

So what’s my secret? These Butterball Calculators.

If you need help planning portions, conversions or how long to roast a turkey for, these calculators are perfect for you. Thanksgiving made easy.

Or if you just want to copy my process, keep reading 😉

Preparing Turkey

How to Roast a Turkey

So, I picked up a frozen turkey the other day and defrosted it using the cold water method. Then once it was nice and thawed, I stuck it into the fridge until I was ready to use it. {Did I ever tell you guys I was a Public Health Major? Yeah, I’m all about growth rates of germs and bacteria. Keep that bird in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it!}

Once I was ready to cook, I pulled it out of the fridge, put it back in the {clean} sink and opened it up.

Once you get it out, place it onto your rack and pat it dry with paper towels and don’t forget to pull out all the yummy giblets and innards. And by yummy I mean gross.

Salt and Pepper

Oil, Salt, and Pepper

Once your turkey is dry, rub it with some oil.

Then sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Be sure to put some into the cavity of the bird too! We want flavor central to be all over Mr. Turkey.

Lemon

Lemon and Onions

Next, I cut up some onions and lemons and shoved them inside. It helps keep things juicy. If you want to add stuffing, do that instead. Just note, stuffing makes the turkey take longer to bake fully through.

How to Roast a Turkey

Roast Turkey

Then, I popped my little baby into a 325-degree oven and let it go. My turkey was 14 pounds, so it took a little more than 3 hours. Don’t forget to wash your hands REALLY well and sanitize your sink!

And, PS- I used this awesome non-stick roasting pan and rack from Calphalon…purdy, isn’t it?

Roast Turkey

Tenting

After 2 hours, I tented the top with foil and let it go until I reached that internal temperature of 175 degrees in the thigh, or until the juices run clear. Take your turkey out and let it rest for 15 minutes or so before you cut right into it.

Then, slice it how you like it and serve! Oh yum. After baking your turkey go ahead and make this Amazing Turkey Gravy.

Roast Turkey Breast

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

For my nearly full list of Thanksgiving, Recipes check out  101+ Thanksgiving Recipes! But here are some of the classics.

You can do it! Bake your own Thanksgiving Turkey this season! When I wrote this recipe back in 2011 (I have since updated it), it was only my third time roasting a turkey by myself. So if I can do it, and post it on a blog for all to see, you can do it! It also helps that I have done all the research for you too. And if you are looking for leftover ideas, check out all of my turkey recipes.

Printable recipe card is below, and don’t forget to pin it. Enjoy!

5 from 2 votes

Perfect Roast Turkey

Get perfectly Roasted Turkey every time with my simple how to roast a turkey guide! You’re 5 ingredients away from Thanksgiving bliss.
servings 12 people
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Total Time 10 hrs 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 14 pound turkey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lemon cut into large pieces
  • 1 onion cut into large pieces

Instructions

  • Thaw your turkey according to how much it weighs. Dry with paper towels and don’t forget to pull out all the giblets and innards.
  • Once your turkey is dry, rub it with some oil. Then sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Be sure to put some into the cavity of the bird too!
  • Next, I cut up some onions and lemons and shoved them inside. It helps keep things juicy.
  • Pop your prepared turkey into a 325-degree oven. Use the Butterball Calculator to help you gauge how long to roast your turkey for. My turkey was 14 pounds, so it took a little more than 3 hours. (Don’t forget to wash your hands REALLY well and sanitize your sink!)
  • Two-thirds of the way through your cooking time, tent the top of the turkey with foil. That will redirect the heat back into the thigh meat and ensure a juicy bird. Let it roast until it reaches that internal temperature of 175 degrees in the thigh, or until the juices run clear.
  • Take your turkey out and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then, slice it how you like it and serve! Oh yum. After baking your turkey go ahead and make this Amazing Turkey Gravy.

Nutrition

Calories: 530kcal | Protein: 81g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 271mg | Sodium: 421mg | Potassium: 842mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 210IU | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Thanksgiving
Keyword: How to Roast a Turkey, Roast Turkey, Roast Turkey Breast, Thanksgiving Turkey

 

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184 Responses
  1. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite

    I already like you on Facebook!

    I am making a turkey for a pre-Thanksgiving with my friends on Saturday. For me, it’s all about the brine! I’m getting my Alton Brown on Friday evening 🙂

    1. Robin

      Rachel, we always use the brine from the Good Eats Roast Turkey. We even use it for our pork ribs before we smoke them. Comes out so tender.

  2. Sandy F.

    I “Shared” Lauren’s Latest link for the Thanksgiving Recipes Part II: Cooking a Perfect Turkey and another turkey giveaway on facebook! 🙂

  3. Cheryl Newton

    And now I liked Butterball on FB! Awesome giveaway. (Shhhh: It would be the 1st time I’ve ever cooked a whole turkey!)

  4. Diane in Cincinnati

    I already like/follow you on Facebook.

    Thanks for the details on how to cook a turkey – I’ve never had the giblets (!!!) to do it before. Do you put it in the pan breast up or down?? My mom was a firm believer of breast down but yours looks breast up.