Dry turkey is the fear of many when cooking a whole turkey. Have no fear! I am here to show you how to make a turkey that is juicy and flavorful!

how to make a turkey

How do you make a turkey?

  1. Prep: Remove packaging, neck, and giblets. Rinse well with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Season: Add salt and pepper to the cavity. Slather herbed butter under and on top of the skin.
  3. Stuff: Put garlic, onion, herbs and lemon inside of the turkey.
  4. Bake and baste: Bake uncovered for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Lower the temp of the oven to 350 degrees. Then bake an additional 15 minutes per pound covered, at 350 degrees. Baste with drippings every 30 minutes.

I have been hosting thanksgiving for the past several years. It is my favorite holiday of the year. There is something about gathering with your family over a delicious meal giving thanks to all of your life’s blessings. Of course, a turkey is the main dish of the meal. Making it juicy and flavorful is a must. Some people are quite intimidated when cooking a whole bird of this size, and rightly so! But with this recipe, you have nothing to worry about. Your turkey will turn out wonderfully.

The herbed butter in this recipe is key. It makes for very flavorful meat and a crispy skin. Letting the bird rest for at least an hour is the most important thing for keeping the meat juicy. If you cut the turkey too soon, your meat will dry out. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. Maybe you will use year after year like we do!

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prepping turkey

roasting turkey

Tips for making a turkey

  1. Fold the wings under and cover that bird! The wings are the first to be cooked and will end up burning if you don’t tuck them under. Also, using an oiled tinfoil tent to cover the bird after the initial 15 minutes of cooking, will prevent the skin from burning and the meat from becoming too dry.
  2. Baste, Baste and Baste again! A delicious crispy and salty skin comes from proper basting. Use a baster or tip the pan and scoop the drippings to pour over the breasts. Do this every 30 minutes.
  3. Let the bird rest! DO NOT SKIMP ON THE RESTING TIME. Let it rest for an hour, at MINIMUM 30 minutes, before carving. If your cutting board is covered in juices, you carved too soon. By letting it rest, all this juice remains in the meat.
  4. Be creative in the herbs you use! I really like the flavors rosemary and thyme bring to turkey meat but some people prefer parsley. Sage is even an option. But whatever you do, use fresh herbs.

Recipe adapted from one I found through Natasha’s Kitchen years ago.

Ingredients you need

10-15 pound turkey

salt

Herbed Butter:

1 cup softened butter

2 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp lemon juice

3 tsp minced garlic

1/8 cup freshly chopped rosemary

1/8 cup freshly chopped thyme

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Stuffing:

1 large onion cut into 4ths

6 garlic cloves

1 lemon cut into 4ths

2 sprigs rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

Tools:

Heavy duty aluminum foil

Roasting pan that fits your bird

Instructions for prepping

*Be sure to thaw your turkey for up to 5 days in the refrigerator depending on the size.

  1. Unwrap your turkey from the plastic. Take all packaging off. Remove neck and bag of giblets from the cavity.
  2. Rinse your bird with cold water until the water runs clear. Be sure to rinse inside the cavity as well.
  3. Pat dry the entire turkey with paper towel, inside and out. Make sure the turkey is dry.
  4. Generously salt the inside cavity.
  5. Prep your herbed butter by combining all ingredients. Mash with a fork until it is well combined.
  6. Separated the skin from the meat by moving your fingers along the meat under the skin. Push from the front and the back. Be careful as to not rip the skin. 
  7. Spread the herbed butter under the skin all over the meat. With the remaining butter spread it all over the skin.
  8. Stuff the turkey with lemon, onion, garlic and herbs.
  9. Fold a large square of tin foil to make a triangle. Rub olive oil on one side. Place the foil oil side down onto the turkey and press to form. Then remove, you’ll need this later.

Instructions for roasting

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Move the rack to the bottom of the oven.
  2. Once prepped, place in the oven uncovered for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and quickly baste the turkey with the melted butter from the bottom of the pan. You can use a baster or tilt the pan and collect the drippings with a spoon.
  4. Apply the tinfoil triangle to the turkey.
  5. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes per pound or about 2 1/2 hours.
  6. Every 30 minutes remove the turkey and quickly baste the breast area with the drippings.
  7. Once the turkey is fully cooked (meat registered at 165 degrees if using a thermometer)
  8. When finished roasting, transfer to a platter and cover with tin foil. Let the turkey rest for AT LEAST an hour! (Keep those drippings to make amazing turkey gravy)

how to make a roast turkey

Let me know in the comments what your favorite thanksgiving side dish is! And be sure to tag me on Instagram if you try my recipe.

Print

How To Make A Turkey {Juicy and Flavorful!} no brining time required

  • Author: Tabitha Kelley
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

Scale

1015 pound turkey

salt

Herbed Butter:

1 cup softened butter

2 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp lemon juice

3 tsp minced garlic

1/8 cup freshly chopped rosemary

1/8 cup freshly chopped thyme

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Stuffing:

1 large onion cut into 4ths

6 garlic cloves

1 lemon cut into 4ths

2 sprigs rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

Tools:

Heavy duty aluminum foil

Roasting pan that fits your bird

Instructions

Instructions for prepping turkey

*Be sure to thaw your turkey for up to 5 days in the refrigerator depending on the size.

  1. Unwrap your turkey from the plastic. Take all packaging off. Remove neck and bag of giblets from the cavity.
  2. Rinse your bird with cold water until the water runs clear. Be sure to rinse inside the cavity as well.
  3. Pat dry the entire turkey with paper towel, inside and out. Make sure the turkey is dry.
  4. Generously salt the inside cavity.
  5. Prep your herbed butter by combining all ingredients. Mash with a fork until it is well combined.
  6. Separated the skin from the meat by moving your fingers along the meat under the skin. Push from the front and the back. Be careful as to not rip the skin. 
  7. Spread the herbed butter under the skin all over the meat. With the remaining butter spread it all over the skin.
  8. Stuff the turkey with lemon, onion, garlic and herbs.
  9. Fold a large square of tin foil to make a triangle. Rub olive oil on one side. Place the foil oil side down onto the turkey and press to form. Then remove, you’ll need this later.

Instructions for roasting turkey

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Move the rack to the bottom of the oven.
  2. Once prepped, place the turkey in the oven uncovered for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and quickly baste the turkey with the melted butter from the bottom of the pan. You can use a baster or tilt the pan and collect the drippings with a spoon.
  4. Apply the tinfoil triangle to the turkey.
  5. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes per pound or about 2 1/2 hours.
  6. Every 30 minutes remove the turkey and quickly baste the breast area with the drippings.
  7. Once the turkey is fully cooked (meat registered at 165 degrees if using a thermometer)
  8. When finished roasting, transfer the turkey to a platter and cover with tin foil. Let the turkey rest for AT LEAST an hour! (Keep those drippings to make amazing turkey gravy)

 

Keywords: turkey, roast turkey, whole turkey, thanksgiving turkey

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