This is pulled from a number of sources and has been the way we do a Thanksgiving turkey for decades.
- Prep Time: Vrs.
- Cook Time: 15 min / lb – lightly stuffed
- Other: 1 hour – out of refrigerator, 30 minutes resting
- Total Time: Approx 4 – 5 hours roasting
- Servings: Vrs
- 16 – 20 lb turkey
- Olive or Canola Oil
- Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
- Turkey Stuffing – Optional but if you don’t add this, put some aromatics into the bird. We use diced onion, celery and apple.
- Preheat oven to 425 F
- Coat turkey liberally with olive / canola oil. Dust with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Stuff the turkey with stuffing mix or aromatics. If using stuffing, don’t pack it in. You want it loosely filled so it cooks fully. Be sure to check that the temperature in the center is 165 F.
- Cook for 30 minutes to brown skin
- Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm to 161 F degrees
- Baste every 30 minutes. Tent breast if it gets too brown.
Adjustments and Notes
- I don’t brine my turkey. I’ve never found it to be of great value. What I get is very moist and tastes great without it. But if you want to brine, the Alton Brown link below provides good instructions.
- If you stuff the turkey and you find the bird is ready (161 F) and the stuffing isn’t (165 F in the center) pull the turkey out of the oven, tent it and remove the stuffing. Then put the stuffing into a covered dish and back into the oven while the turkey rests.
- Thawing a frozen turkey requires patience. The safest method is to thaw turkey in the refrigerator. Be sure to plan ahead — it takes approximately 4-5 days for a 20-pound turkey to fully defrost.
- For crisper skin, unwrap the turkey the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
- When calculating your roasting time, plan on about 15 minutes per pound.
- A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables — carrots, celery, onion or garlic work nicely — or by carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin. For the stuffing lovers, cook the dressing in a casserole dish on the side.
- Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with vegetable or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tightly cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning (it will be removed in step 7).
- Don’t be a peeping Tom (no pun intended)! Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door and admire your handiwork. When the oven temperature fluctuates, you’re only increasing the likelihood of a dry bird. About 45 minutes before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil from the breast to allow it to brown.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and use an instant-read thermometer to determine temperature; it should read 165 degrees F at the thigh when it’s done. If you stuff your turkey, check the internal temperature of the stuffing as well; it should be at least 165 degrees.
- Tent the bird with foil and let rest for about 25 minutes before carving. If you need more time to make gravy, heat up side dishes, etc., you can let the turkey set for up to an hour without losing too much heat.
- Remember to carve your turkey with a very sharp or electric knife.
- I’ve been making this with little variation for over 20 years. Works great each year.