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Learn how to roast a turkey with all the tips and tricks you’ll need to make a turkey full of flavor for Thanksgiving or any holiday.

Learn how to roast a turkey with these simple steps. Serve it with Mashed Potatoes, Rolls, Green Bean Casserole and Pumpkin Pie and you’re set!

How to Roast a turkey recipe instructions, a turkey in a roasting pan.

A Perfect Roast Turkey

Turkey is a classic dinner idea for holidays, especially Thanksgiving!

After years of making turkeys, we finally have it down to a science, and today we will be sharing all the best tips and tricks so you can have the PERFECT roast turkey recipe.

Why we love this recipe:

  • Delicious. This recipe is so juicy and flavorful!
  • No Fail. We did all the hard work for you to make sure we share all the top tips and tricks to get the perfect bird.
  • Everyone will love you. Because turkey can often be considered difficult, you will look like the turkey pro making this recipe for your fathering.

Serve this with our favorite sides including: Sweet Potato Casserole, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Dinner Rolls, Mac and Cheese, Green Bean Casserole + Cranberry Sauce.

What size turkey should I buy for my dinner?

Take a headcount and plan to serve each person 1- 1½ pounds of turkey. For 10 people plan to serve a 10-15 pound turkey. If you are hosting a large crowd consider cooking two smaller turkeys. 

Graphic of when to that that turkey for cooking on Thanksgiving.

ThaW That Turkey

DO NOT thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature or in hot water. Also, do not refreeze a raw turkey.

  • In the refrigerator. Keep the turkey in its wrapping and place it in the fridge.
    • 20-24 lb Turkey – Move to fridge Friday before Thanksgiving
    • 16-19 lb Turkey – Move to fridge Saturday before Thanksgiving
    • 12-15 lb Turkey – Move to fridge Sunday before Thanksgiving
    • 4-11 lb Turkey – Move to fridge Monday before Thanksgiving
Veggie ingredients for roast turkey recipe.

Roast Turkey Ingredients

  • turkey (thawed)
  • vegetables: celery, onion, carrots, minced garlic
  • apples
  • chicken broth
  • butter – cut into pats to go under the skin
  • compound butter (such as Italian Garlic Butter)

Glaze

  • molasses
  • Dijon mustard
  • granulated garlic
  • black pepper + kosher salt

How to roast a turkey

  1. PREP. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. VEGGIES. Cut your celery, carrots, onion & garlic & add 2/3 of them to the bottom of your roasting pan
    • *Note- be sure to use a roasting pan with an elevated rack to keep the bird somewhat above the liquid
  3. TURKEY PREP. Prepare your turkey by removing the added items (neck, giblets, gravy packet) – no need to rinse the turkey- leave the tie on the legs – this helps keep it together (or use kitchen twine to tie them together if not tied).
    • Place turkey in your prepared pan or roasting rack.
  4. FILL. Stuff remaining veggies inside turkey cavity.
  5. APPLES. Add one apple- cut in half, inside turkey. Place remaining apples (also cut in half) around outside of the turkey.
  6. BUTTER. Cut your butter into 1 tablespoon pats.
  7. ADD BUTTER. Carefully lift skin away from meat & slide each pat of butter in between the skin & breast. Add chicken stock to the bottom of the pan.
  8. BRUSH. Melt your compound butter & brush over the entire turkey.

Roast + Glaze

  1. COOK. Roast in preheated oven, uncovered for 30 minutes.
    • Reduce heat to 375°F.
    • Remove, baste, tent with foil – return to oven.
    • Continue roasting an additional 2-2½ hours depending on the size of your turkey (check label for exact cooking times per size) Basting every 40-45 minutes.
  2. TEMPERATURE. Using a meat thermometer, check temperature near the end. Once you reach a minimum of 165°F in the thickest part of the turkey, it’s time to add your glaze.
Glaze being added to roast turkey.

Turkey Glaze

  1. Whisk glaze ingredients in a small bowl to combine.
  2. Brush glaze over turkey & return turkey to oven, uncovered & cook an additional 15 minutes to crisp the skin.
  3. Remove & let rest 10-20 minutes before carving. Whether you prefer the turkey breast, thigh, or wings, you’ll enjoy every juicy piece!
How long does it take to cook a turkey graphic (in a 325 degree oven).

Turkey Cook Times

Unstuffed:

  • 8-12 lbs: 2.5 – 3 hours
  • 12 – 14 lbs: 3 – 3.5 hours
  • 14 – 18 lbs: 3.5 – 4.25 hours
  • 18 – 20 lbs: 4.25 – 4.5 hours
  • 20 – 24 lbs: 4.5 – 5 hours

Stuffed:

  • 8-12 lbs: 3 – 3.5 hours
  • 12 – 14 lbs: 3.5 – 4 hours
  • 14 – 18 lbs: 4 – 4.25 hours
  • 18 – 20 lbs: 4.25 – 4.5 hours
  • 20 – 24 lbs: 4.75 – 5.25 hours

Let the Turkey Rest: Line a baking sheet with a wire rack. After you have removed the turkey from the oil, place it on the wire rack. Tent a piece of tin foil over the turkey and let it rest for 20 minutes.

BE SURE to stick your probe thermometer into the thickest part of the bird & make sure it’s at least 165°F.

Close up of sliced roast turkey in dish with herbs and cranberries.

Recipe Tips

  • Gravy. You can use the turkey drippings/juices to make Turkey Gravy.
  • Brine. Some people like to brine to enhance the flavor and moisture of the turkey, but it is not necessary.
  • Added flavor. Use some fresh herbs like sage, thyme or rosemary to add even more flavor to your dish.
How to roast a turkey close up image.

Leftovers

STORE. Remove the meat from the bones. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or freezer for 2-3 months. 

FREEZE. Within 24 hours of being cooked, place in a freezer safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Using leftovers. There are so many options, but here are some of our favorites:

Roast turkey close up image - sliced on baking dish with fresh herbs and cranberries.

For More Thanksgiving Recipes:

COLLECTIONS: Thanksgiving Sides, Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

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5 from 36 votes

How to Roast a Turkey

By: Lil’ Luna
Learn how to roast a turkey with all the tips and tricks you'll need to make a turkey full of flavor for Thanksgiving or any holiday.
Servings: 10
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 40 minutes
Total: 3 hours

Ingredients 

  • 1 turkey thawed
  • 5-6 stalks celery chopped
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 4-5 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 head minced garlic peeled
  • 2-3 apples
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons butter divided
  • 3 tablespoons compound butter (such as Italian Garlic Butter)

Glaze

  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Save This Recipe!
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!

Instructions 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • Cut your celery, carrots, onion & garlic & add most of them to the bottom of your roasting pan.
  • *Note- be sure to use a roasting pan with an elevated rack to keep the bird somewhat above the liquid.
  • Prepare your turkey by removing the added items (neck, giblets, gravy packet) – no need to rinse the turkey- leave the tie on the legs – this helps keep it together.
  • Place turkey in your prepared pan.
  • Stuff remaining veggies inside turkey.
  • Add one apple- cut in half, inside turkey.
  • Place remaining apples (also cut in half) around outside of the turkey.
  • Cut your butter into 1 tbsp pats.
  • Carefully lift skin away from meat & slide pats of butter in between the skin & breast.
  • Add chicken stock to the bottom of the pan.
  • Melt your compound butter & brush over the entire turkey.
  • Roast in preheated oven, uncovered for 30 minutes.
  • Remove, baste, tent with foil – return to oven.

Reduce heat to 375 degrees

  • Continue roasting an additional 2-2½ hours depending on the size of your turkey (check label for exact cooking times per size) Basting every 40-45 minutes.
  • Check temperature near the end – once you reach a minimum of 165°F in the thickest part of the turkey, it's time to add your glaze.
  • Whisk glaze ingredients in a small bowl to combine.
  • Brush glaze over turkey & return turkey to oven, uncovered & cook an additional 15 minutes to crisp the skin.
  • Remove & let rest 10-20 minutes before carving.

Video

Notes

Gravy. You can use the turkey drippings to make Turkey Gravy.
Brine. Some people like to brine to enhance the flavor and moisture of the turkey, but it is not necessary. If you choose not to brine, you can still achieve a delicious and juicy turkey by properly seasoning, basting, and cooking it.
Remember to give your turkey a rest. Once your turkey has been taken out of the oven let the turkey rest under a loose sheet of aluminum foil for at least 20 minutes before carving. 
STORE. Remove the meat from the bones. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or freezer for 2-3 months. 

Nutrition

Calories: 603kcal, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 57g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 212mg, Sodium: 1098mg, Potassium: 1329mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 30g, Vitamin A: 4650IU, Vitamin C: 9.2mg, Calcium: 137mg, Iron: 4.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Making this recipe? Tag us!
Share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #lilluna, so we can see what you’re creating in the kitchen!

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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5 from 36 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




49 Comments

  1. Olivia says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe on how to prepare a turkey. Can be a bit overwhelming but the recipe details every step of the way!

  2. Kristina R says:

    5 stars
    My turkeys dont usually brown as beautifully as yoir photo, but i think using the glaze Will help give a great Tasting and good looking bird.

  3. Natalie says:

    5 stars
    This is great! I get nervous each time I am in charge of the turkey, but this is fool proof & the turkey looks golden & juicy!

  4. Amy L Huntley says:

    5 stars
    i LOVE THE STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS! i ALSO LOVE SEEING HOW OTHERS PREPARE THEIR TURKEY!

  5. Joy says:

    5 stars
    So glad you shared this! Your tips will definitely help on Thanksgiving! This turkey is so perfect!

  6. Elizabeth Burbach says:

    5 stars
    I would like to know how to make the gravy from this recipe with all the vegetables that are in the pan under the turkey.

  7. Warren Cudney says:

    5 stars
    Total lifesaver, I can’t cook to save my life….. I’m sure gld you can 🙂

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      LOL…sure you can!!

  8. Bryan North says:

    simply brilliant

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      Thanks so much!

  9. ana says:

    5 stars
    THis was my first time cooking a turkey and I followed your Recipe and it came out ABSOLUTELY amazing! The skin was crispy, turkey was juicY, Seriously it was just so deliCiouS!

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      That makes me so happy to hear!! I am so glad you gave it a try 🙂 Thank you!

  10. Ed Rosenthal says:

    That is one fine looking turkey! I will definitely be giving this one a try very soon!

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      Thanks so much!!