Roasted Turkey Recipe – Get the perfect oven roasted turkey for your holiday table with this simple and delicious recipe. The meat stays juicy and tender every time!
This post is sponsored by the National Turkey Federation. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
It is hard to believe that the holidays are right around the corner. And what is at the center of your holiday table? The perfect turkey of course! A crisp golden brown skin that is tender and juicy and full of flavor.
When I was growing up we had turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it is a must that it be delicious. Today I am here with all the tips to make sure your turkey is perfect.
5 Tips to the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey (Whole Bird)
- When selecting your turkey, allow 1 pound of turkey per person for a fresh or frozen bird. For bigger eaters (or more leftovers!), allow for 1 ½ – 2 pounds per person.
- Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of bird weight for thawing in the refrigerator.
- For roasting, plan for 20 minutes per pound in a 350°F oven for a defrosted turkey and 10-15 minutes per pound for a fresh turkey.
- Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes after removing from oven before carving to allow juices to set.
How to Thaw a Turkey
When you purchase a turkey in the store there is usually the option of fresh or frozen. Frozen turkeys are definitely more prevalent, so if that is what you have, make sure you buy your turkey well in advance. You will want to thaw the turkey in the fridge and plan around 24 hours per 4-5 pounds of meat. My turkey was about 16 pounds and took 4 full days to thaw. So make sure you plan ahead.
How to Prep a Turkey
To make a turkey you need to follow a few steps. As soon as you remove the turkey from the plastic wrap do the following:
- remove the neck from the turkey cavity
- remove the giblet bag
- fold the ends of the turkey wings under your bird
- tie the legs together with kitchen twine (after you season and fill the cavity with the aromatics)
How Long to Cook a Turkey
The general rule is to cook for 15-20 minutes per pound. But the only way you really know is by using a meat thermometer. You want to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the bird, being careful not to touch the bone. What temperature to cook turkey? Once it reads 165°F it is done. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for about 20 minutes before slicing.
Food Safety Reminders!
Be sure to follow these simple tips to make sure that everyone is safe.
- Don’t rinse your turkey! Rinsing can lead to the spread of bacteria around the kitchen
- We recommend cooking your dressing separate from your turkey. But if you do prepare a stuffed turkey, make sure the stuffing reaches 165°F as well.
- Make sure you wash your hands after handling raw turkey. Don’t forget to disinfect any surfaces or spice containers you may have touched along the way.
- Use clean plates and utensils to prevent cross-contamination. Also, use separate cutting boards for raw protein and produce.
- Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours; food stored in the refrigerator should stay below 40°F. Enjoy those Thanksgiving leftovers within 3-4 days or freeze your turkey for use over the next several weeks.
An estimated 45 million turkeys are consumed during Thanksgiving. About 95% of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. So you may as well make sure it is delicious. It doesn’t have to be the dried out boring turkey that you grew up with!
The key to the perfect turkey is the herbs and the butter! The butter gives the turkey that crispy skin that you are always looking for. The skin helps to really lock in the juices as well, which makes very a tender and juicy turkey. To get that crispy skin I start the turkey in a super hot oven for and then reduce the heat so the meat gets cooked all the way through.
The fresh herbs give the meat so much flavor. I like putting garlic and herbs in the cavity of the turkey, so as it cooks they release their aroma and the flavor really gets into the meat.
This roasted turkey is really easy to make and you will impress all of your holiday guests. That perfectly golden and crispy crust will have everyone in awe and wondering how you did it! Then they will see how juicy the turkey is and you may be hosting Thanksgiving every year going forward!
- 12-15 pound turkey
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs sage
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
Herb Butter Rub
- 8 Tbsp butter, room temperature
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
- Salt and Pepper
- Remove turkey from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a small bowl mix together salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Sprinkle on the inside cavity of the turkey to season.
- Place the quartered onion, lemon, bay leaves, sage, rosemary, thyme and garlic into the turkey.
- Bring the legs together and tie together with string.
- Tuck the tips of the wings under the turkey.
- In a small food processor mix together butter, garlic, sage, thyme and rosemary until well blended.
- Generously season the outside of the entire turkey with salt and pepper.
- Use your fingers rub the butter mixture evenly over the turkey until it is well coated.
- Place the turkey in a roasting pan with about 1 cup of water in the bottom.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the skin is golden, then reduce the temperature to 350 and cook for an additional 2 1/2 hours. Total cooking time will vary based on the size of your turkey, but count on about 15 minutes per pound.
- Remove turkey from the oven and tent with foil for 20 minutes before slicing to serve.