Roasting a turkey for the first time can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Learn an easy turkey recipe for how to roast a Thanksgiving turkey. This method is simple to follow and will cook a delicious moist perfectly seasoned turkey every time. All the work is done before the turkey goes into the oven. After the turkey is in the oven use the rest of the day to make your side dishes.
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How to Prepare Your Turkey for Roasting
- Depending on the size of your whole turkey (or turkey breast) you will need to thaw the turkey days before you want to cook it.
- Here is a handy Turkey Cooking Time & Defrosting Time Calculator that will tell you how many hours are needed to have the turkey defrosting in the refrigerator.
- For example, if you have an 18-pound frozen turkey you need to have it defrost in the refrigerator for 5 days. If you have a 12-pound frozen you need to defrost it in the refrigerator for 3 days.
- Have your Roasting Pan clean and dry. Stray or butter the inside of the pan. On the bottom of the pan use a roasting rack or line the pan with washed and celery stock and whole long carrots to make a veggie rack for the turkey to sit on.
- On the morning of Thanksgiving take the turkey out of the fridge and remove the outside wrapping. Make sure that your sink is clear and place the turkey in the sink and remove the gizzard package. The gizzard package is a wax paper bag of the organs and neck of the turkey. You can save these turkey parts if you are boiling them for gravy, otherwise, you can dispose of the bag in the content.
- With cold water wash the inside and the outside of the turkey.
- Place the turkey ontop of the roasting rack or the celery carrots in the roasting pan.
- Cut a half stick of butter into pads of butter into 1/4 inch patties and melt the other half of stick of butter. With your hand loosen the skin of the turkey from the turkey breast and lay the pad of butter under the skin. With a pastry brush brush the melted butter on the outside of the whole turkey.
- Salt and pepper the outside of the turkey if desired.
- If you are cooking your stuffing in the turkey fill the front and back cavity of the turkey. Add the stuffing loosly so that it will be fully cooked at the end of the cooking time.
- With cooking twine tie the legs of the turkey together to hold in the stuffing. If you are not stuffing the turkey you can add halfs of lemons and oranges in the cavith. If leaving the cavitys empty still tie the legs.
- With the turkey in the roasting pan put in 1 1/2 cups of water, turkey stock or veggie stock in the bottom of the pan.
- Cut two long strips of aluminum foil to make a tent over the top of the turkey. Lay on layer of foil on top of the other and fold over the long edge about one inch. This will make a layer of foil that can tent over the turkey and wrap on the edge of the roaster. You do not want the foil to tough the turkey. Leave the foil tent on the turkey for all of the cooking time and it can be removed the last hour to brown the skin.
How to Cook a Roasted Turkey
- To find the cooking time for the size of your turkey check out the Turkey Cooking Time Calculator.
- Every hour or so of cooking time open the oven and baste the turkey with the liquicd in the bottom of the roaster. Coating over the top of the turkey with the drippings and replacing the tent when done.
- An hour before the turkey is done take the tent off, bast again and cook uncovered to brown the skin.
- The turkey is done when the inturnal tempure is measured at 180° F in the thigh and 170° F in the breast and stuffing. Then remove the turkey form the oven and let sit for 15 minutes to rest. This allows the juice in the turkey to stay in the meat.
- After the resting time of 15 minutes you can carve the turkey. A good reference for how to carve a turkey can be found at the Butterball site How to Carve a Turkey.
Equipment For A Roasted Turkey
- Extra Long Aluminum Foil
- Roasting Rack or Celery & carrots
- Pastry Brush
Ingredients for A Roasted Turkey
- Whole Turkey with the giblest bag removed from the body cavity
- Celery stocks and while carrots
- Melted butter and butter pads
- Stuffing for the body cavity (try our homemade Cracker Stuffing)