If you have ever hosted a holiday dinner, you know the stress of trying to make sure the turkey is the star of the show. Everyone will gather around to oooh and aaah at the perfect golden brown skin while snapping cell phone pics like they're the turkey paparazzi.
You've got to make sure that bird looks good.
The pressure to perfect the turkey can be overwhelming, but with this simple, delicious recipe, you can take the stress out of cooking the bird altogether.
This easy roasted turkey recipe is not made with any fancy ingredients, there's no brine, and all you need is time.
If you've got around four hours, a fresh turkey, some herbs, some butter, and an apple, an orange, and an onion, you'll be on your way to a memorable holiday meal in no time!
WHAT SIZE TURKEY SHOULD I BUY?The general rule when it comes to how much turkey to buy is to make sure you have 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person.
Here is a guide for how much turkey you should buy per person:
buy an 8-12 pound turkey for 6-8 people
buy a 13-15 pound turkey for 9-12 people
buy a 16-18 pound turkey for 13-15 people
buy a 19-22 pound turkey for 16-18 people
buy a 23-25 pound turkey for 19 or more people
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO THAW A TURKEY?The rule of thumb is to thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 5 pounds that the bird weighs. I like to give myself an extra day just to be safe!
Here is a guide for how long you should thaw a turkey in the refrigerator:
thaw an 8-12 pound turkey for 2 1/2 days
thaw a 13-15 pound turkey for 3 days
thaw a 16-18 pound turkey for 3 1/2 days
thaw a 19-22 pound turkey for 4-5 days
thaw a 23-25 pound turkey for 5 days
HOW LONG SHOULD I COOK A TURKEYYou should roast your turkey in the oven uncovered at 350 degrees F for 13-15 minutes per pound. While using a time chart is handy when cooking a turkey, it is always best to gauge accurate doneness by using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. When done, the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast should be 165 degrees F. Be sure your meat thermometer is not touching any bones while reading the temperature.
Here is a guide for approximately how long you should cook a turkey:
cook an 8-12 pound turkey for 2-3 hours
cook a 13-15 pound turkey for 3 to 3 3/4 hours
cook a 16-18 pound turkey for 3 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours
cook a 19-22 pound turkey for 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours
cook a 23-25 pound turkey for 5 1/2 to 6 hours
WHAT DO I DO IF I OVERCOOKED MY TURKEY?If you overcook your turkey, first, don't cry. Yes, it's ideal to have your turkey come out perfectly moist and delicious but, if for some reason, your calculations were off and your turkey ends up too dry, use this simple method to moisten it back up. All you have to do is use turkey stock or chicken stock to add back a little bit of moisture. Simply drizzle warmed stock over your sliced meat before serving. Or, you can go all-in with gravy! Give that sliced turkey a generous ladle of homemade turkey gravy and you'll forget about the fact that's it's dry in no time. (Honestly speaking, if your turkey is a little dry, just shoot for less time next year and give yourself a pat on the back for tackling the toughest job on turkey day in the first place!)
SHOULD I PUT STUFFING IN MY TURKEY?This recipe does not stuff with a bread-based stuffing, but rather fruits and veggies. As the turkey roasts, the liquids in the fruits and veggies steam, keeping the bird nice and moist while adding delicious flavor. If you choose to stuff your turkey with bread stuffing, cook times as written will not be accurate and you risk the turkey overcooking before the stuffing has reached a safe temperature (165 degrees F). You can still have stuffing, though! Check out this super simple traditional homemade stuffing recipe that is cooked in a casserole dish.
SHOULD I BASTE MY TURKEY?Yes and no. This recipe does not 100% require basting, but I suggest basting just once in the last 30 minutes of cooking to give the skin a nice pretty sheen and to get those glorious dripping flavors to the top of the turkey. It's important to not over-baste your turkey! If you choose to baste your turkey while cooking, be sure to limit it to one or two times, or the cooking time may be off due to the fact that you opened the oven too many times.
HOW DO YOU MAKE TURKEY GRAVY?Forget that jarred stuff and make some homemade turkey dripping gravy using the pan juices from your roasted turkey! I promise you won't regret it. To make homemade gravy for your turkey, first, strain the drippings through a fine-mesh strainer. Let the remaining liquid sit until the fat separates to the top. Use a baster to remove the fat layer from the drippings. Use what's left (the good stuff!) combined with butter, flour, and fresh thyme to make the most amazing gravy ever! Here are the full recipe and instructions for homemade Turkey Dripping Gravy.
MORE HOLIDAY RECIPESLooking for more holiday-worthy recipes to add to your menu? Check out these holiday favorites from the archives:
Super Simple Traditional Stuffing
Sour Cream Green Bean Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Brown Sugar Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole
If you try this easy oven-roasted turkey recipe, I'd love to know what you think in the comments below. Enjoy!
Easy Oven Roasted Turkey
prep time: 30 MINcook time: 4-5 HOURStotal time: 4-5 HOUR 30 MIN
1 (15-20 pound) fresh turkey, thawed, neck and giblets removed and discarded
6 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 orange, quartered
1 apple, quartered
1 onion, quartered
1-2 sprigs each fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator one hour before preparing.
2. Arrange the racks of your oven so the turkey will be in the middle of the oven when cooking. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
3. In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, dried sage, dried rosemary, and dried thyme.
4. Place the turkey (breast side up) in a large roasting pan with a rack. Fold the wings so the tips are folded under the bird. Pat the turkey inside and out with paper towels to remove any moisture.
5. Generously season the inside of the turkey cavity with salt and pepper.
6. Use your fingers to loosen the skin from the breast on top of the turkey. Fill the space between the meat and the skin with the herb butter, using your fingers to spread the butter evenly under the skin.
7. Fill the cavity of the turkey with the quartered orange, apple, onion, and fresh herbs.
8. Brush the skin of the turkey with the canola oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, cotton string, or use the truss provided.
9. Roast for the turkey for 13-15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast reaches 170 degrees F. If the skin begins to brown too much towards the end of the cooking time, loosely cover with foil for the remaining time. Baste the turkey once during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
10. Transfer the turkey to your carving station or serving platter and let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving and serving. (No need to cover while resting.) Use the pan dripping to make homemade turkey gravy!
If you choose to, you can keep the neck and giblets that come inside of the turkey for gravy instead of discarding.
Depending on the size of your turkey, you may not be able to fit all of the quartered orange, apple, and onion. Fit what you can!
Do not over-baste your turkey. If you choose to baste your turkey while cooking, be sure to limit it to one or two times, or the cooking time may be off due to the fact that you opened the oven too many times.
If you are using a disposable roasting pan that does not come with a rack, use halved fruits or veggies like apples or onions under the bird to elevate it while it is cooking. Discard the fruits or veggies used for elevating, but save the drippings to make homemade gravy!
Melted butter or olive oil can be used in place of the canola oil if desired.
Nutrition data should not be considered a guarantee. Please see our full Nutrition Data Disclosure.
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