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How to cook the perfect oven roasted turkey

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start thinking about your holiday menu. A roasted turkey is a classic centerpiece for any feast, and with this recipe, you’ll be sure to impress your guests. This herb-roasted turkey is juicy and full of flavor, and it’s sure to be a hit at your next holiday gathering. So, what are you waiting for? Get roasting!

Roasted turkey

Cooking a turkey in the oven

Cooking a turkey in your oven is a classic way to prepare this popular holiday main course. But if you have never tried making herb roasted turkey at home, the process of preparing the bird may seem intimidating. Luckily, this recipe is easier than you think! Here’s everything you need to know about making roasted turkey at home for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

What is the difference between roasting and baking a turkey?

The terms “roasting” and “baking” are often used interchangeably when it comes to cooking poultry. However, there is a slight difference between the two methods. When you roast a turkey, you cook it uncovered in an oven set at a higher temperature, between 325 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This method is best for creating a golden-brown bird. When you bake a turkey, you cook it covered in an oven set at a lower temperature, between 200 and 325 degrees Fahrenheit. This method is best for ensuring that the meat stays moist and juicy.

No matter which method you choose, the most important thing is to use a meat thermometer to ensure that your turkey is cooked through before serving.

What is the Best Way to Thaw a Turkey?

Most full turkeys come from the grocery store frozen, which means you’ll need to defrost your turkey before you can start roasting it. But thawing your turkey isn’t as simple as letting it sit in the fridge overnight. Since your turkey is large and heavy, it will take significantly longer to defrost than a typical one-pound package of meat.

That’s why it’s important to plan ahead when it comes to preparing your turkey for a holiday meal. The best way to thaw out your frozen turkey is to move it from the freezer to the refrigerator at least two days before you plan to cook it. A good rule of thumb is to allow one full day of thawing in the refrigerator for each four to five pounds of meat.

When thawing your turkey in the refrigerator, it’s a good idea to keep these tips in mind:

  • Place the turkey on a tray. Since the turkey will likely have ice on the outside and frozen juices inside, it’s important to place your turkey on top of something to catch any leaks. This will prevent a mess in your fridge.
  • Store the turkey breast side up. To speed up the thawing process, place the thickest part of the turkey on the top – the breast.
  • Don’t underestimate your thawing time. You can’t cook a frozen turkey, so it’s better to overestimate how long it will take the turkey to defrost than underestimate it. If your turkey finishes defrosting before you plan to cook it, it will be safe in the fridge for several days.

Front image of oven roasted turkey on a cutting board

How Do You Season a Turkey?

Adding herbs to your oven roasted turkey is the only way to add flavor to the bird, which means it’s important that you know how to properly season your poultry before you start roasting. To ensure your turkey tastes amazing, use these helpful tips as you prep your poultry for roasting in the oven.

  • Prepare the herbs. Before you add the seasoning to the turkey, the herbs need to be prepared. Start by stirring together all your seasonings until they’re well blended. Then, use a mortar and pestle to grind the herb mixture into a fine powder.
  • Separate the skin. To help infuse flavor directly into the meat of your turkey, the herbs should be rubbed under the skin. That means you’ll need to start by carefully pulling the skin away from the meat using your hands. Work slowly to avoid ripping the skin as you loosen it.
  • Season the meat. Once you have the skin loosened from the meat, rub the seasoning mixture under the skin. Then, fold the skin back over the top of the meat, covering the seasoning.
  • Season the skin. Now that the meat under the skin is seasoned, you can add the remaining seasoning blend to the skin of the turkey. Sprinkle the herbs over the top of the turkey, then lightly rub it into place all over the skin.

Is it better to cook a turkey at 325 or 350?

There is no one temperature that is better for cooking a turkey. The best way to ensure your turkey is cooked through is to use a meat thermometer. The ideal internal temperature for cooked poultry is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

That said, most turkeys will need to be roasted at a higher temperature, between 325 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit, in order to brown the skin. If you’re looking for a golden-brown bird, cook your turkey at 325 or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long does roasting a turkey take?

Since undercooked poultry can be dangerous to eat, taking the time to ensure your turkey is fully cooked is essential. You’ll know your turkey is ready to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees on all the meaty sections.

But how long does it take a turkey to reach 165 degrees internally? The cook time will depend on how big your bird is. Use these cook times as a guide to help you gauge how long you’ll need to cook your own turkey in the oven:

  • 4 to 8 pounds (breast only): 1 1/2 to 3 1/4 hours.
  • 8 to 12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours.
  • 12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours.
  • 14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours.
  • 18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours.
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

Close up image of herb roasted turkey

Do you put liquid in bottom of roasting pan for turkey?

If you want your turkey to stay moist while roasting, adding liquid to the bottom of the roasting pan is a good idea. You can use water, chicken broth, or even white wine. Adding liquid will help to keep the turkey from drying out as it cooks. However, I have a foolproof method that always gives me a juicy turkey! Just follow my recipe below.

Is it better to roast a turkey covered or uncovered?

There is no one answer to this question. Some people prefer to roast their turkey covered, as it helps to keep the meat from drying out. Others prefer to roast their turkey uncovered so that the skin gets nice and crispy. If you’re not sure which method you want to use, try roasting your turkey covered for the first half of the cooking time, then uncover it for the last half. This will give you the best of both worlds!

Where to place turkey in oven?

The placement of your turkey in the oven is important for even cooking. The turkey should be placed on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. The roasting pan should be big enough to fit the turkey comfortably, with room for the heat to circulate around it.

If you don’t have a roasting rack, you can improvise one by using a bed of carrots, celery, and onions. This will help to keep the turkey off the bottom of the pan so that the heat can circulate evenly.

How do I keep my turkey from drying out?

The best way to keep your turkey from drying out is to use a meat thermometer. Cook the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit on all of the meaty parts.

Another way to prevent your turkey from drying out is to roast it covered for part of the cooking time, then uncover it for the last half hour or so. This will help the skin to crisp up while still keeping the meat moist.

If you want to add even more moisture to your turkey, try basting it with a little bit of chicken broth or white wine every 30 minutes or so.

What does basting a roasting turkey really do?

Basting is the process of spooning liquid over the surface of a roasting turkey. This helps to keep the turkey moist and prevents it from drying out.

The best liquids for basting are chicken broth, white wine or a butter mixture. You can also use a combination of these liquids. Or you can use the liquid formed in the roasting pan, if you’ve added any.

To baste a turkey, simply remove it from the oven and spoon the liquid over the surface of the skin. Then return it to the oven and continue roasting.

Can I stuff my turkey before roasting?

Stuffing a turkey is not recommended, as it can increase the risk of foodborne illness. Stuffing the turkey also increases the cook time, which can dry out the meat.

If you really want to stuff your turkey, cook the stuffing separately and add it to the cavity of the turkey just before roasting.

Roasted whole turkey on a cutting board

What is the best way to carve a roasted turkey?

The best way to carve a roasted turkey is to first remove the legs and thighs. To do this, cut through the skin that connects the leg to the body of the turkey. Then, use your hands to separate the leg from the body. Once the leg is free, cut through the joint that connects the thigh to the body of the turkey.

Next, remove the wings by cutting through the skin that connects them to the body. Then, use your hands to separate the wing from the body.

Finally, remove the breast meat by slicing along each side of the breast bone. Then, cut the breast meat into slices.

When carving a roasted turkey, it’s important to use a sharp knife. This will help to prevent the meat from tearing.

Can roasted turkey be frozen?

Yes, roasted turkey can be frozen. Simply place it in a freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer for up to four months.

When you’re ready to eat the turkey, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Then reheat it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warmed through.

What is the best way to reheat a roast turkey?

The best way to reheat a roast turkey is in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and add a little bit of chicken broth or white wine to the bottom of the pan. This will help to keep the turkey moist as it reheats. Cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil and reheat it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long will roasted turkey keep?

Roasted turkey will keep in the fridge for up to four days. Turkey can also be frozen for up to four months.

What would be a great replacement for a Thanksgiving turkey?

If you don’t want to roast a turkey, there are plenty of other options that would be great for Thanksgiving. Roasted chicken, ham, or beef are all good options. You could also do a vegetarian main dish, like roasted vegetables or a quiche. Or you could do something non-traditional, like sushi or tacos. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that everyone will enjoy!

If you’re still inclined to cook turkey meat but you don’t have a large crowd to feed, roasting a turkey breast is a great option. It’s quicker and easier than roasting an entire turkey, and it will still be delicious. Another option is to cook turkey thighs or drumsticks. These can be cooked in the oven or slow cooker, and they’re perfect for smaller groups.

What goes well with a roast turkey?

There are plenty of side dishes that go well with a roast turkey. Some traditional sides include mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, and stuffing. But you can really serve anything you want! Try serving a mix of roasted vegetables, or a simple salad. You could also do something non-traditional, like macaroni and cheese or a rice dish.

No matter what you serve, make sure you have plenty of gravy! Gravy is essential for a delicious Thanksgiving meal.

Do you have any tips for roasting a turkey?

Here are a few tips to help you roast the perfect turkey:

  • Make sure your turkey is thawed completely before roasting. A frozen turkey will take much longer to cook, and it may not cook evenly.
  • Be sure to season your turkey well before roasting. This will help to ensure that it’s flavorful and moist.
  • Roast your turkey at a lower temperature, around 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help to prevent the meat from drying out.
  • Baste your turkey regularly while it’s roasting. This will help to keep it moist and juicy.
  • Let your turkey rest for about 20-30 minutes before carving. This will help to prevent the meat from drying out.
  • When carving your turkey, be sure to use a sharp knife. This will help to prevent the meat from tearing.

If you’ve been looking for the perfect roasted turkey, this recipe is easy to follow and produces a delicious, juicy bird. So what are you waiting for? Get roasting!

Oven roasted whole turkey

What Do I Need to Make Roasted Turkey?

Roasting turkey is a great way to prepare a delicious main course for your holiday meal. And the best part about making this simple recipe is that you only need a handful of ingredients and supplies to prepare it!

To start, you’ll need to gather up a few ingredients to prep and season your turkey, including:

  • Dry parsley
  • Garlic powder
  • Celery seed
  • Cardamom
  • Dry thyme
  • Onion powder
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 15 lb turkey

Other herbs that go well with turkey include sage, fresh rosemary and fresh thyme, if you want to add those too. Fresh herbs always taste better so if you have them, use them!

In addition to the ingredients to prepare the main course, you’ll also need a few supplies to properly roast your turkey in the oven. To cook the turkey, you’ll need:

  • Roasting pan. To prepare the turkey, a roasting pan is a must. You’ll need a pan that is large enough to hold the bird. Additionally, the pan should have tall sides to hold in the juices as the turkey cooks.
  • Parchment paper. Using parchment paper is a simple way to help seal in the moisture around the turkey as it cooks. You will need enough parchment paper to wrap all the way around the turkey and fully cover it.

How to cook the perfect roast turkey recipe?

  1. Allow turkey to thaw before preparation and cooking. Remove turkey from packaging, remove giblets and neck.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the spices minus the salt and pepper. I like to mix and then grind the spices into a rub with a pestle and mortar.
  3. Separate the skin on the breast meat using your hands. Go slow and gentle to not rip the skin. Pull the skin back and rub the breast meat with the spice rub. Fold the skin back over the meat and then spread the oil across the whole top of the bird.
  4. Rub the remaining spice rub over the whole bird including the legs. Salt and pepper the bird to taste.
  5. Place some parchment paper in the roasting dish to cover the bird. Place the bird on the parchment and then cover the bird with the parchment. Seal the parchment by crumbling it together. This seals in moisture that evaporates during cooking.
  6. Cook at 350°f for 3 hours. Make sure the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°f in all the meat portions.
  7. Place on a large serving platter, carve turkey and enjoy! You can use the drippings in the roasting dish for gravy.

Roasting a turkey is an excellent method to cook up a delectable main dish for your Thanksgiving dinner. This dish is simple to follow and results in a juicy, flavorful bird. So, what are you waiting for? Start roasting!

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Photo collage of roasted turkey with herbs

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Herb roasted turkey

Herb roasted turkey is a classic holiday dish that is sure to please your guests. This recipe makes a juicy turkey that is full of flavor!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Resting time30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 1 turkey
Author: Petro

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon dry thyme
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 x 15 lb turkey

Equipment

Instructions

  • Allow turkey to thaw before preparation and cooking. To thaw a frozen turkey, place it in a refrigerator two days before cooking. Remove turkey from packaging, remove giblet pouch and neck.
  • In a bowl, mix the spices minus the salt and pepper. I like to mix and then grind the spices into a rub with a pestle and mortar.
  • Separate the skin on the breast meat using your hands. Go slow and gentle to not rip the skin. Pull the skin back and rub the breast meat with the spice rub. Fold the skin back over the meat and then spread the oil across the whole top of the bird.
  • Rub the remaining spice rub over the whole bird including the legs. Salt and pepper the bird.
  • Place some parchment paper in the roasting dish to cover the bird. Place the bird on the parchment and then cover the bird with the parchment. Seal the parchment by crumbling it together. This seals in moisture that evaporates during cooking.
  • Cook at 350°f for 3 hours. Make sure the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°f in all the meat portions.
  • Leave turkey covered by parchment for 30 minutes to rest once fully cooked. Carve turkey and enjoy! You can use juices in the roasting dish for gravy.

Notes

Additional cooking times per turkey weight:
    • 4 to 8 pounds (breast only): 1 1/2 to 3 1/4 hours.
    • 8 to 12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours.
    • 12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours.
    • 14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours.
    • 18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours.
    • 20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours.
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about petro

ABOUT PETRO

Hi, I’m Petro, author and founder of Easy Peasy Creative Ideas. Sewist, crafter, avid DIY-er, foodie, photographer, homemaker and mommy to one. I’m an expert at coming up with quick, clever sewing tips, recycling crafts and simple, easy recipes! You can find my ideas featured in reputable publications such as Country Living, Good House Keeping, Yahoo News, WikiHow, Shutterfly, Parade, Brit & Co and more. Thanks for stopping by and hope you’ll stay for a while, get to know me better and come back another time. Stick around for real fun projects! Read more…

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