Roasted Turkey: the easy, flavorful recipe for a juicy, moist turkey

Total time: 250 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 12 people
By Cookist
17 lb
1/2 cup
Fresh rosemary
2 tbsp
2 tbsp
2 tbsp
2 cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Thanksgiving is around the corner and that means it’s Turkey time! This roasted turkey is just the showstopper you want on your table this season. It’s an easy recipe to make the classic Thanksgiving dish being served during the holidays. It feeds a lot of people, making it the perfect meal for when the extended family comes over.

Many may be intimidated by such a big bird. And with good reason, as it’s often left dry and tasteless. But don’t worry, you don't have to brine, or cook upside down the turkey, or even use an expensive roasting pan. It cooks in the oven for a few hours and thanks to a delicious herbed butter, is full of flavor and moist without drying out.

The turkey used in this recipe was 16-17lb, which is just the right amount for 12 people. It’s also an easy size for a standard oven. You can also make it ahead of time, which certainly makes Thanksgiving preparations easier.

Thanksgiving Turkey Ingredients

Turkey – to make sure you can feed a crowd, look for a turkey at around 12-20 lb.

Butter – use salted butter.

Herbs – use a premade mixture, or a selection of rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic.

Carrots, celery, onion – this will add flavor to the roast and can be used to make the gravy.

How To Prepare A Turkey For Roasting

How to thaw the turkey 

When planning your Thanksgiving dinner, make sure to carve out enough time for the thawing process. A rule of thumb is to allow one day for every four pounds of turkey. You will also need enough space in your fridge, as the turkey will be thawed in the fridge.

Can you wash the turkey? 

There’s no need to wash your turkey. In fact, it’s advised not to as you can spread Salmonella and other germs to the rest of your kitchen.

How to prepare the turkey before roasting 

Dry the turkey properly with a clean kitchen towel, or use paper towels.  Remove giblets if there are any.

Can You Brine Turkey?

If you buy a good quality turkey, no brining would be necessary. However, if you’re using a wild turkey, you will need to add a brining step and it need to be brined at least the day before.

How To Make Roasted Turkey

After drying the turkey, season it properly inside the cavity and on the surface.

Use a knife to carefully cut into the turkey skin, and then use your hands to create a pocket underneath the skin. Spread the butter in this pocket.

Cook the turkey uncovered. Once the bird starts to brown, you can cover it loosely with aluminum foil and continue cooking.

Cook the turkey at 350°F. Don’t be tempted to increase the temperature, this will only cause the bird to burn before it’s cooked through. Start checking if after 2 hour and 45 minutes.

To tell if it’s cooked you will need to use a thermometer. Check that the thickest part of the meat is 160°F.

Once the turkey is cooked, cover it with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. This will allow the juice to redistribute throughout the meat and make the turkey nice and juicy. Finally, you can carve your Thanksgiving turkey and serve it.


Can I Make Thanksgiving Turkey Ahead Of Time?

You can cook the turkey up to two days ahead of time, carve it and keep it in the fridge.

At What Temperature Should A Turkey Roast?

Cook the turkey at 350°F. Don’t be tempted to increase the temperature, this will only cause the bird to burn before it’s cooked through. Start checking if after 1 hour and 45 minutes.

How Long Does It Take To Cook A Turkey?

The cooking time depends on the size of your turkey. For an unstuffed turkey, work at around 13 minutes per pound at 350°F.

Tips For Making Perfect Roasted Turkey

Do not rinse the turkey.

Save the drippings from the roasting tin to make your own turkey gravy and serve it alongside the main dish.

The general rule of thumb is 1–1½ pounds of turkey per person.

Don’t cook the stuffing inside the turkey (it carries a risk of food poisoning). Rather cook it and serve it separately before presenting it on the table.

What To Serve With Roasted Turkey

Serve your roasted turkey with some delicious sides like the classic you make during Thanksgiving like sautéed brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, baked creamed corn and garlic butter potatoes. If you love gravy with your roasted turkey, try also the classic turkey gravy.

How To Store Roasted Turkey

Store leftover turkey in the fridge for up to 3 days. Keep it in an airtight container.

What To Make With Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers

Thanksgiving usually means lots of turkey leftovers. Use it in a salad, a casserole, or as stuffing for a Thanksgiving sandwich, or a tortilla.



Mix together the fresh chopped herbs, grated garlic, salt, pepper and butter.


Place the turkey on a clean kitchen surface and dry with a paper towel.


Rub the butter mixture under the skin of the turkey and on the outside.


Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.


Place roughly chopped veggies in the bottom baking form.


Place the turkey in the roasting pan on top of the veggies and stuff turkey with vegetables too.


Bake at 170°C/350°F for about 3 hours 45.

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