How to Roast a Turkey

How to Roast the Perfect Turkey. All the tips and tricks you’ll need to make a turkey full of flavor. It’s great for Thanksgiving but really for any holiday.

You can’t resist a delicious turkey for Thanksgiving! Serve it with mashed potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie and you’re set! Plus, this turkey is so flavorful it’s great to save and use for leftovers in so many soups and casseroles.

COLLECTIONS: Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

How to Roast a turkey recipe instructions

Perfect Roast Turkey

Hi everyone! It’s Gina from Kleinworth & Co. & I’m back today to share my favorite Thanksgiving recipe. Have you ever wanted to know How to Roast a Turkey?

Today I’m sharing my recipe that took me years to perfect. But now it’s so easy that we make a full turkey dinner several times a year!

When my husband & I spent our first Thanksgiving together it was a disaster. Neither of us had any clue what we were doing & as a result the meal was a flop. My parents were so nice & didn’t complain at all. But I made it my mission to learn how to make a perfect roast turkey. It took several more years of only trying at Thanksgiving time before we nailed it. But now here we are 20 years later & the turkey is the easiest part of the whole feast. Let me show you just how simple it can be.

First up – let’s talk about the size of turkey to buy as well as thawing a frozen turkey…

What size turkey should I buy for my dinner? Take a headcount and plan to serve each person 1- 1 ½ lbs of turkey. For 10 people plan to serve a 10-15 lb turkey. If you are hosting a large crowd consider cooking two smaller turkeys. 

Best Way to Thaw a Frozen Turkey

DO NOT thaw at room temperature or in hot water. Also, do not refreeze a raw turkey. With that said you have a couple of choices.

  • In the fridge: Keep the turkey in its wrapping and place it in the fridge. Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. Once the turkey has thawed it can stay in the fridge for an additional 2 days before it needs to be cooked: A 12 lb turkey will need 36 hours to thaw.
  • A cold water bath: Make sure the package is leak proof or put the turkey in a leak proof bag. Completely submerge the turkey in cold tap water. Depending on the size of your turkey you can use a sink, a large cooler or even the bathtub. The water needs to stay cold so change the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes per 4-5 lbs to thaw: a 12 lb turkey will need 6 hours. Cook the turkey as soon as it is thawed. 

Roast turkey in pan with veggies and apples

How to Cook a Turkey in the Oven

This is how we do it (keep scrolling to see different times and temps to cook). Trust us – it’s easier than you think!

First you cut your veggies & add them to the bottom of the pan. I also add apples because it gives a wonderful flavor (cut in half, inside turkey and sprinkled around too). NOTE – be sure to use a roasting pan with an elevated rack to keep the bird somewhat above the liquid

Then you add your bird & stuff it full of those same veggies. I like to add butter between the skin & meat to help crisp the skin & give it a great flavor.

Don’t forget to give the whole bird a coat of melted compound butter. I love to use my Italian garlic butter. I don’t really add any other seasonings at this point because I have found they tend to burn. However once we get to the glaze there will be plenty of flavor. I bake for a while (about 30 minutes) uncovered to get that skin to start to crisp.

Continue roasting an additional 2 – 2.5 hours depending on the size of your turkey (check label for exact cooking times per size) Basting every 40-45 minutes.

Turkey close up with pats of butter under skin

How long to cook a turkey

Turkey Cook Times

How long should I cook my turkey? To be 100% sure your turkey is done use a meat thermometer. When the bird reaches 165 degrees F it’s done. The following will give you a rough idea of how long to expect it to take:

  • 10 – 18 lbs: unstuffed 3-3.5 hours: stuffed 3.5-4.5 hours
  • 18 – 22 lbs: unstuffed 3.5-4 hours: stuffed 4.5-5 hours
  • 22 – 24 lbs: unstuffed 2-2.5 hours: stuffed 5-5.5 hours
  • 24 – 29 lbs: unstuffed 4.5-5 hours: stuffed 5.5-6.5 hours

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

Roast Turkey glaze

Turkey Glaze

Check temperature near the end – once you reach a minimum of 165 degrees in the thickest part of the turkey, it’s time to add your glaze.

Our glaze is made up of molasses, dijon mustard, granulated garlic, pepper and salt. Whisk glaze ingredients in a small bowl to combine. Brush glaze over turkey and return turkey to oven, uncovered & cook an additional 15 minutes to crisp the skin.

Remove & let rest 10-20 minutes before carving.

Roast Turkey recipe

FAQ + Tips

What do I do if the top is cooking quicker than the middle? You definitely do not want to end up with a scorched turkey. If your turkey has begun to brown too quickly loosely cover the top with aluminum foil. Also, if the drippings are starting to evaporate and become too dark go ahead and add a tablespoon or two to the pan. 

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: 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 foil for at least 20 minutes before carving. 

How do I store leftovers? Remove the meat from the bones. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or freezer for 2-3 months. 

What to make with leftover turkey? There are so many options, but here are some of our favorites:

How to Roast a Turkey

That’s it! I told you it was easy & it’s so delicious too. Moist on the inside with a wonderfully crispy skin that is packed full of flavor. Your Thanksgiving guests will love this!

For more Thanksgiving recipes:

COLLECTIONS: Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Perfect Roast Turkey

Roast Turkey Recipe

5 from 4 votes
How to Roast the Perfect Turkey - so full of flavor and a hit any holiday or day of the year, but especially Thanksgiving!!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 10
Calories 603 kcal
Author on lilluna.com

Ingredients

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

Glaze

  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 3 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  1. Cut your celery, carrots, onion & garlic & add most of them to the bottom of your roasting pan

  2. *Note- be sure to use a roasting pan with an elevated rack to keep the bird somewhat above the liquid
  3. 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.
  4. Place turkey in your prepared pan
  5. Stuff remaining veggies inside turkey
  6. Add one apple- cut in half, inside turkey
  7. Place remaining apples (also cut in half) around outside of the turkey
  8. Cut your butter into 1 tbsp pats
  9. Carefully lift skin away from meat & slide pats of butter in-between the skin & breast
  10. Add chicken stock to the bottom of the pan
  11. Melt your compound butter & brush over the entire turkey
  12. Roast in pre-heated oven, uncovered for 30 minutes
  13. Remove, baste, tent with foil - return to oven

Reduce heat to 375 degrees

  1. Continue roasting an additional 2-2.5 hours depending on the size of your turkey (check label for exact cooking times per size) Basting every 40-45 minutes
  2. Check temperature near the end - once you reach a minimum of 165 degrees in the thickest part of the turkey, it's time to add your glaze
  3. Whisk glaze ingredients in a small bowl to combine
  4. Brush glaze over turkey & return turkey to oven, uncovered & cook an additional 15 minutes to crisp the skin
  5. Remove & let rest 10-20 minutes before carving

Author

Lil Luna Contributor

Lil’ Luna is the place to find all things creative. From recipes to home decor to gift ideas and crafts, you can find unique, simple and fun ideas for your home, kitchen and for any occasion.

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Comments

  1. That is one gorgeous bird! I think everyone needs to have a really big Thanksgiving flop to really appreciate the ones where you finally feel as though you’ve nailed the technique. Believe me, I definitely went through that!

  2. This started off WAY too hot and everything burned in the bottom of the pan in the first 30min. Looked other places and it says to roast at 325. Hope my whole turkey isn’t infused with the flavor of burned veggies and stock.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.