Are you the go-to person to roast the turkey this year on Thanksgiving? Do you know how to roast turkey? Are you nervous? I know I was the first year I shouldered this responsibility. The turkey is the star of the show, and I didn't want to be the one to ruin our Thanksgiving meal with a dry, tasteless bird!
No worries! I'll show you how to roast turkey to succulent deliciousness every time! This method of brining the turkey overnight in salt water and then roasting to the perfect temperature will deliver a beautifully moist and tender turkey that will live up to being the star of the Thanksgiving table every time!
Should you go fresh or frozen? I've done both. I was very disappointed in my so-called 'fresh' bird, so now I only buy frozen. Turkeys are immediately flash frozen, so in my strange little mind that makes them fresher than a 'fresh' turkey. This recipe can be used for fresh or frozen turkeys.
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Be sure to purchase your turkey with plenty of time to let it thaw safely in the fridge. You'll need one day per every 5 pounds of turkey for the big thaw.
For Thanksgiving prep, I put my turkey in the brine the morning before Thanksgiving Day. I usually have a good sized turkey that just doesn't fit in my large stock pot, so I have found putting my turkey with the brine in a large bag placed inside my roasting pan does the trick. Because only half the turkey is sitting in the brine, I do have to turn the turkey over to brine the other half. I let one half of the turkey sit in the brine all day. Before I go to bed, I flip the bag over so the other side of the turkey can brine all night.
On the morning of Thanksgiving, remove your turkey from the brine. Discard brine. Clean and dry the roasting pan. Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out and pat dry. Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan breast side up and place the roasting pan back in the fridge for at least 3 hours. No need to cover the turkey. The goal is to dry out the skin so it can crisp up. While the turkey is hanging out in the fridge, gather all of the tools you'll need to prep it for the oven!
To prep the turkey for the oven, stuff the cavity with 1 onion, quartered, 1 cup baby carrots, 2 stalks cut up celery, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 bay leaf. Tie up the legs of the turkey with twine, and brush the turkey with 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter. Place the turkey breast side DOWN on the roasting rack in the roasting pan. Scatter the remaining vegetables and thyme around the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour 1 cup wine into the roasting pan with the veggies.
I recommend tying up the legs. My turkey came with a plastic leg holder, but I remove that and use kitchen twine. OXO Good Grips Perfect Cut Twine Dispenser is super handy! No more tangled up balls of twine!! Be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway for your chance to win an #OXOTurkeyDay Prize Pack that includes the twine dispenser!!
Once the turkey is prepped, get him in the oven and roast at 350°F for approximately 2 1/2 hours (2/3 of total cooking time). Then remove turkey from oven, baste, and flip the bird over so breast side is up.
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Once your turkey is flipped over so the breast side is up, be sure to tuck the wing tips under the neck and brush the turkey with the other 1/2 of the melted butter. Continue roasting for another hour to hour and a half until the internal temperature of the thigh registers 165°F.(these times are for an 18 pound turkey).
Pay close attention to that temperature so you don't overcook!! Adjust the times as needed for bigger or smaller turkeys. I follow the rule of 13-15 minutes per pound to calculate total cooking time for an unstuffed turkey, but always go by the temp so you don't have an overcooked or under cooked turkey.
Once the turkey is up to temp, remove it from the oven and tent it with foil. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes before carving. This gives the turkey juices time to absorb into the meat and also gives you time to make the gravy and get everything heated up and on the table. Check out my Homemade Turkey Gravy Recipe! The OXO Good Grips Fat Separatorincluded in the prize pack makes it very easy to whip up some homemade gravy that is low in fat and delicious!
How to Roast Turkey
- 18 lb whole turkey
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 cups baby carrots
- 4 stalks celery, cut in chunks
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Kitchen Twine
- Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and reserve for gravy. Rinse the turkey thoroughly and dry well. Rub the turkey inside and out with 2 cups kosher salt. Place the turkey in a large stock pot or a sturdy bag such as a big cooking bag or even a clean kitchen trash bag and cover with cold water. Refrigerate overnight. When my turkey is too large for my giant stock pot, I put the turkey in a large sturdy bag (or double bag it if needed) and place the whole thing in my roasting pan. Then I pour in the water to cover about 1/2 the turkey and tie up the bag. I then place the roasting pan in the fridge the morning before Thanksgiving. That evening before I go to bed, I flip the bag over so the other side of the bird gets time in the brine :) The roasting pan will catch any leaks.
- The morning of Thanksgiving, I take the turkey out of the brine. Discard the brine. Clean and dry the roasting pan. Rinse the turkey thoroughly inside and out and pat dry. Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan breast side up and place the roasting pan back in the fridge for at least 3 hours. No need to cover the turkey. The goal is to dry out the skin so it can crisp up.
- When ready to roast the turkey, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dry the roasting pan and rack as needed and pat the turkey dry as well. Stuff the turkey cavity with 1 onion, quartered, 1 cup baby carrots, 2 stalks cut up celery, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 bay leaf. Tie up the legs of the turkey with twine, and brush the turkey with 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted, unsalted butter. Place the turkey breast side DOWN on the roasting rack in the roasting pan. Scatter the remaining vegetables and thyme around the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour 1 cup wine into the roasting pan with the veggies.
- Roast, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours and then flip the bird so it is breast side up. Brush with the remaining melted butter and continue roasting for another hour or until the internal temperature of the THIGH registers 165 degrees F. Check the temp in the thigh not the breast. When the turkey is ready, remove it from the oven and let stand for 30 minutes before carving.
Prep Time: 24 hrs. 00 mins.
Total time: 28 hrs. 00 mins.
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com Perfect Turkey Recipe
Tags: How To, Roast Turkey, Thanksgiving, Tender, Moist, Brine, Turkey, Perfect, OXOTurkeyDay, Holiday
OXO provided me with the tools pictured above for taking part in the #OXOTurkeyDay campaign. No other compensation was provided, and all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.