Last updated on November 20th, 2018 at 12:28 pm
How to Roast a Turkey – learn easy techniques to perfectly roast a turkey. Step by step instructions from start to finish.
Well with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, it’s time to roast a turkey. I love love this season. And how can you not? You can’t turn the TV on without seeing a Christmas movie on and I just can’t help myself, I watch them all. I can watch Christmas movies all day long.
So have you roasted a turkey before? Don’t be scared, it’s just a big bird. Over the years, I’ve watched my mother roast turkeys over and over again. I love everything about roasting a turkey. The smell in the kitchen, the holiday atmosphere all around and of course, eating that delicious turkey.
This recipe here for a roast turkey is quite simple. I stuffed the turkey with an onion, quartered, garlic cloves and lemon. I brushed it with a lemon flavored butter, generously and I mean generously and seasoned it with salt and pepper.
HOW TO THAW A TURKEY
The safest and easiest way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator, but it takes the longest. It will take a few days, depending on the size of your turkey. All you have to do is put the turkey in a pan to catch any drips and leave it in the fridge for a few days. Allow 24 hours for every 5 lbs of turkey.
If you’re planning to brine the turkey, wet or dry, you can do this while the turkey is partially frozen.
CAN YOU COOK A FROZEN TURKEY
Believe it or not, you certainly can cook a frozen turkey. The only difference is that it will take a lot longer to cook than normal, 50 percent more time. For example, a 10 lb turkey will take about 5 1/4 hours to cook. Best way to check if it’s cooked is still to use a meat thermometer.
The turkey cooks as it thaws, with the legs and wings cooking faster. If cooking a frozen turkey, you won’t be able to do any fancy rubs or brines.
HOW TO ROAST A TURKEY
Prepare your turkey for roasting. Make sure to remove any packaging from it and the bag of giblets from inside the cavity. Pat the skin dry with paper towels, this promotes browning and crisping.
If stuffing your turkey add the dressing inside and season your turkey generously on the skin with herbs and spices.
I do not recommend adding water to the pan because it creates a steam and may steam-burn the turkey. The turkey produces its own flavorful juices.
Cover the turkey and cook if covered for the first couple hours. You can baste it every 30 minutes if preferred. Cook it uncovered for the last hour and a half so that to turkey turns golden brown.
BRINING A TURKEY
I never used to brine my turkeys until recently. Brining involves immersing the turkey in a salt-water solution or dry-brining it in salt for a day or so before cooking. This results in a moist and perfectly seasoned turkey.
If you have the extra time, I strongly recommend to brine your turkey. Check out my post on Brined Roast Turkey Breast for detailed instructions on how to brine your turkey.
A dry-brine, also called pre-salting, seasons the turkey like a wet brine, but there’s no water. You basically rub the salt and seasonings directly into the meat and skin, and let it rest in the fridge for a period of time before cooking. This works because the salt draws out the meat juices through osmosis. The salt then dissolves into the juices, and this brine is reabsorbed into the meat and starts to break down tough muscle proteins. The result is a juicy, tender, seasoned turkey.
TIPS FOR ROASTING A TURKEY
Always cook your turkey until the skin is a light golden color. Cover your roasting pan with a lid or foil and cook covered for 2 hours (depending on size of your bird) and uncovered for the remaining time.
Baste your turkey every half hour or so. However, basting will not make your turkey moister, but it promotes even browning of the skin.
To truly test doneness of the meat, use an instant meat thermometer. Do not go by the color of the skin. The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Make sure the thermometer is not touching the bone.
If you’re stuffing your turkey, check the temperature of the dressing as well. It should be 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
Just like with any roast, you need to let your meat sit and rest after removing it from the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and makes carving easier.
COOKING TIMES FOR ROASTING A TURKEY
|Turkey Weight||Serves||Roasting Time|
|10-18 lbs||Less than 10 people||3 – 3 1/2 hours|
|18-22 lbs||10-15 people||3 1/2 to 4 hours|
|22-24 lbs||16-20 people||4 4 1/2 hours|
|24-29 lbs||more than 20 people||4 1/2 – 5 hours|
CRAVING MORE THANKSGIVING RECIPES? TRY THESE:
- Crockpot Brown Sugar Cola Glazed Ham
- Green Bean Casserole From Scratch
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Sage Sausage Stuffing
- Sugared Cranberries
- Italian Roasted Mushrooms and Veggies
- Classic Pumpkin Pie
- Bourbon Pecan Pie
How to Roast a Turkey
- 10 lb turkey
- 1/2 cup butter unsalted
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves chopped
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp pepper or to taste
- 8 sprigs thyme fresh
- 1 onion quartered
- 10 cloves garlic peeled
- Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
- In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the lemon zest and juice and the teaspoon of thyme to the butter and stir. Set aside.
- Wash the turkey and make sure you remove the giblets from inside the turkey cavity. I also usually trim some of the excess fat around the neck of the turkey.
- Place the turkey in a large roasting pan with a roasting rack. Salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the turkey with the onion, garlic and thyme.
- Brush the turkey with the butter mixture all over and generously season with salt and pepper.
- Tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey, this will help stabilize the turkey when carving, plus it makes it easier to carve the breast. Tie the legs together with butcher twine.
- Cover the turkey with the lid, or if your roasting pan doesn't have a lid cover with aluminum foil.
- Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and roast the turkey for 2 hours, remove lid or aluminum foil. Roast for an additional 1 1/2 hours. Use a meat thermometer to know when the turkey is done. When the thermometer is inserted in the breast it should read 165 F degrees, and 180 F degrees in the thigh.
- Remove the turkey from the roasting pan to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Slice turkey and serve.
- For this recipe, the turkey needs to be thawed. Read the section above for notes on how to cook a frozen turkey.
- Cooking times for roasting a turkey:
Turkey Weight Serves Roasting Time 10-18 lbs Less than 10 people 3 - 3 1/2 hours 18-22 lbs 10-15 people 3 1/2 to 4 hours 22-24 lbs 16-20 people 4 4 1/2 hours 24-29 lbs more than 20 people 4 1/2 - 5 hours
- Internal temperature: To truly test doneness of the meat, use an instant meat thermometer. Do not go by the color of the skin. The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Make sure the thermometer is not touching the bone.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.
Originally published Nov 2014. Updated with additional information.