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a roast turkey on a turkey platter garnished with herbs and cranberries.
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How to Roast a Turkey

How to Roast a Turkey - learn easy techniques to perfectly roast a turkey. Step by step instructions from start to finish.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time4 hours
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to roast a turkey, roast turkey, turkey
Servings: 8
Calories: 754kcal


  • 10 pound turkey
  • ½ cup butter unsalted
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves chopped
  • 2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon pepper or to taste
  • 8 sprigs thyme fresh
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 10 cloves garlic peeled


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • 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.
  • Remove the giblets from inside the turkey cavity. I also usually trim some of the excess fat around the neck of the turkey. Pat the skin dry with paper towels, this promotes browning and crisping.
  • First, you'll need to place the onions, celery and carrots in the bottom of a roasting rack, then place the rack on top. Place the turkey on top of the roasting rack. 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.
    process shots showing how to roast a turkey.
  • Brush the turkey with the herb butter mixture all over and generously season with salt and pepper.
    process shots showing how to roast a turkey.
  • Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and transfer the roasting pan to the preheated oven. Cook covered for 2 hours.
    process shots showing how to roast a turkey.
  • Remove the aluminum foil and transfer the turkey back to the oven. Roast for an additional 1½ 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, and 180°F in the thigh.
    process shots showing how to roast a turkey.
  • Remove the turkey from the roasting pan to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.


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 to 3 ½ hours
18-22 lbs 10-15 people 3 ½ to 4 hours
22-24 lbs 16-20 people 4 to 4 ½ hours
24-29 lbs more than 20 people 4 ½ to 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.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 754kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 129g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 410mg | Sodium: 1254mg | Potassium: 1401mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 589IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 5mg