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Roast Turkey

This method for Roast Turkey shows you exactly how to make an oven-roasted turkey using simple steps and simple ingredients. Prepare roasted turkey for your holiday meals, or as a weeknight treat that will yield plenty of leftovers! 

Roasting a whole turkey in the oven can sometimes be intimidating! There can be so many moving parts to make sure your turkey is moist and tender on the inside and has crispy skin on the outside.

The way we roast turkey is simple and easy! A whole turkey is prepared by removing anything in the cavity and patting it completely dry. It then gets a simple seasoning of garlic and butter. Salt and pepper get sprinkled on top and it’s ready for the oven. 

To get crispy skin without burning, you’ll cook the turkey under foil for most of the time leaving the last 45 minutes uncovered. This gives the skin time to get nice and crispy while you baste it with melted butter for the perfect texture.

We love making roast turkey for any holiday meal, but also love making it on any day of the week. It gives us plenty of leftovers that we love using for meal prep!

Green beans and a turkey leg on a plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This method takes only 4 ingredients which include the whole turkey. 
  • We used simple seasonings, but you can customize and use your favorite flavors to season the turkey.
  • Great for a Thanksgiving meal or to have on a weeknight that will give you plenty of leftovers. 
  • This recipe shows you how to properly cook a turkey in the oven with simple steps that anyone can follow!

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Whole Turkey – You’ll need a 8-10 pound turkey that has the giblets and neck removed. The turkey should have an empty cavity and needs to be patted dry. 
  • Garlic Cloves – Infuses the turkey with a fragrant fresh garlic flavor. 
  • Unsalted Butter – Helps the seasoning stick and crisps up the skin of the turkey. 
  • Salt & Pepper – Enhances the flavor of the turkey while salt helps remove any excess moisture in the skin helping it crisp up better.
Top down view of ingredients for roast turkey.

How To Make Roasted Turkey In The Oven

  1. Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large roasting pan, add a layer of foil to the bottom and set aside. 
  2. Prepare the turkey: Remove the turkey from the packaging. Remove anything in the cavity including the gravy, giblets, and instructions. The neck should also be removed. Using paper towels, pat the turkey until the skin is dried. Transfer the turkey to the prepared roasting pan. 
  3. Season the turkey: Loosen the skin of the turkey over the breast area. Place the garlic cloves under the skin and distribute evenly adding some in the wings, thighs, and legs under the skin. Add some of the butter under the skin following the garlic cloves. Sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Oven roast the turkey: Cover the turkey completely in foil, then add it to the preheated oven to bake for 20-25 minutes per pound. 
  5. Crisp the skin: Once the turkey has 30-45 minutes left of roasting time, remove the foil from the top to crisp up the skin. If the skin looks like it’s getting too dry, baste with melted butter. Repeat as necessary. 
    Let the turkey rest: Once the turkey is finished cooking at an internal temperature of 180°F in the thigh and 170°F in the breast, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.
Collage showing how to rosat turkey.

Recipe Tips

  1. To make sure the turkey cooks evenly, make sure it is out of the fridge for at least 40 minutes before adding to the oven. This will help take the chill off of the turkey making it easier for it to roast. 
  2. A layer of foil on the bottom of the roasting pan helps keep the juices in place to make gravy without any excess clean-up. 
  3. You can add any herbs and seasonings under the skin as well as on top for an extra flavorful roast turkey.
  4. All ovens vary in temperature, so the best way to know when your turkey is finished cooking is by using a kitchen thermometer and making sure the turkey comes to an internal temperature of 180°F in the thigh and 170°F in the breast.
  5. Make sure the turkey gets to rest before carving as it needs time to redistribute the natural juices inside the meat that keep it moist and tender. 

Variations 

  • To personalize the recipe, try adding different seasonings like paprika or seasoned salt. A mix of dry or fresh herbs also makes the turkey taste delicious. 
  • To flavor the inside of the turkey, you can add chopped apples, celery, onion, or lemon to help infuse the turkey while it roasts. 
  • Don’t like dark meat? You can use the same method to roast a turkey breast.
Turkey legs on a serving plate.

How long should I cook a whole turkey?

As long as it’s thawed, cooked at 325°F, and not cooked with stuffing, a turkey needs to cook for 20-25 minutes per pound. The safest way is to cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 180°F and 170°F in the breast.

How do I get crispy skin on my turkey?

Personally, I recommend salting the skin before cooking and removing the foil about 30 to 45 minutes before the bird is done. The larger the turkey the more time it needs to crisp the skin.

Should I roast a turkey at 325°F or 350°F?

You can roast your turkey at either temperature as long as it doesn’t go above 350°F. A lower temperature may need to cook longer, so make sure you are using a kitchen thermometer to ensure the turkey cooks all the way through.

Storing and Freezing

Refrigerator: Cooked and cooled turkey breast can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Use it to make Leftover Turkey Salad or Thanksgiving Sliders for sandwiches the next day!

Freezing: If you’d like to freeze any leftover turkey, remove it from the bone, then add it to a freezer-safe bag with as much air removed as possible. You can add gravy to the bag to help retain moisture. Freeze for up to 3-4 months.

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Yield: 1 (8-10 pound) Turkey

Roast Turkey

Roast turkey leg with green beans on a plate.

This method for Roast Turkey shows you exactly how to make an oven-roasted turkey using simple steps and simple ingredients. Prepare roasted turkey for your holiday meals, or as a weeknight treat that will yield plenty of leftovers! 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time 20 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8- 10 pound turkey, giblets and neck removed, cavity emptied, and turkey patted dry
  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled and whole
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons cut into 4 pieces, the rest melted for basting)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, optional to help crisp the skin
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, optional to season the skin

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and place foil in the bottom of a large roasting pan.
  2. Remove the turkey from the packaging, and ensure all packets (gravy, giblets, instructions, etc.) have been removed from the inner cavity. Then, use paper towels to pat it dry inside and out. Make sure the outside is very dry. Transfer the turkey to the prepared roasting pan.
  3. Loosen the skin around the turkey breasts, and carefully place the cloves of garlic under the skin. Move the garlic past the turkey breast to the wing, leg, and thigh area.
  4. Next, add the butter under the skin. Place 2 half tablespoons over each breast and melt the rest for basting.
  5. Optional: Salt and pepper the top skin over the entire turkey.
  6. Cover the turkey with foil, and bake for 20-25 minutes per pound.
  7. During the last 30 to 45 minutes, remove the foil. If the skin looks like it’s beginning to dry, slowly pour melted butter over the turkey. Repeat as needed to keep the skin moist and flavorful.
  8. Remove the turkey from the oven, and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
  9. See post for storage options.

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of approximately a cup depending on the size of the turkey and white type of meat is consumed. Actual calories will vary.

*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 468Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 1205mgSodium: 415mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 62g

*The calories are an estimate and are based on the ingredients and serving size listed. The calories can vary depending on the brand of product purchased.

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