Project Description

Roasted Turkey

You can’t have a traditional Thanksgiving without a turkey, right? Well…you probably could but we’ve got you covered if you’re looking for a way to fill your kitchen with the comforting smell of roasted turkey. There’s nothing fancy here. No elaborate rubs or 2 day brines. Just good old fashioned turkey dinner and it works every time. We base our instructions on a small turkey since we always serve so many other things for Thanksgiving. You can scale this recipe to suit the number of guests you are feeding.


  • 1 whole 12 lb turkey including the neck and giblets found in the cavity
  • 1/2 – 1 stick of butter or olive oil
  • 2-3 Bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Water or chicken stock to add to the pan to keep the turkey from sticking
  • 2 medium onions, cut in half and seasoned with olive oil and salt and pepper

Instructions – Bake at 425 degrees for the first 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 and continue for roughly 15 minutes per pound or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey reads 165 degrees (you can remove turkey from over at around 160 degrees as it will continue to cook as it rests)

  1. Keep your fresh or defrosted turkey in its original packaging until you are ready to prepare it
  2. Remove the neck and plastic bag containing giblets from the cavity ( you can add to the roasting pan with the turkey)
  3. Wash and dry the turkey (I’ve actually read that you should not wash the turkey, more on that below)*
  4. Season the inside of the turkey generously with salt, pepper, garlic powdr and onion powder and add the onions
  5. Rub the entire surface with butter (you can also use olive oil), getting underneath he skin too
  6. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder or your favorite herbs and spices
  7. The turkey should sit at room temperature for at least an hour before going in the oven
  8. Then add enough water or chicken stock to cover the bottom of the roasting pan (about 1/2 inch)
  9. Place the pan’s rack in the pan and sit turkey breast-side up on the rack and also add the neck and giblets
  10. Tuck the wings underneath the turkey and also tie the drumsticks together
  11. Place the turkey in a hot (425 degrees)oven uncovered
  12. After about 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees
  13. Check the turkey every 20-30 minutes to be sure that there is liquid in the pan and that it does not burn and turn the neck and giblets so they do not burn
  14. As the liquid begins to reduce, continue to add water or additional chicken stock to the pan
  15. If the top of the turkey starts to brown too much, simply cover the turkey lightly with foil
  16. Continue to roast the turkey about 15 minutes per pound or until thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the turkey reads 165 degrees (more on this below)*
  17. Remove from oven and let the turkey rest for 30-60 minutes before carving
  18. Strain the juice that is left in the pan to use for topping or to make gravy (see below for a quick bonus recipe)*

I have read several times that you should not wash your turkey. The reasoning is that water will not clean or remove any lingering bacteria from the turkey, but washing it can in fact spread that stuff to other foods or surfaces in your kitchen. Only heat will really kill/clean what needs killing/cleaning. That said, my mom would never not wash the turkey and we’re all fine. This is your call. Use your best judgement.

About the final temperature of the turkey…it’s 165 degrees. I recommend removing the turkey at 160 (max) because it will continue to cook as it rests. The key there is that you have to let it rest.



  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tsp butter
  • Turkey dripping

Instructions – total cook time is about 30-40 minutes depending on the amount of heat and how quickly the gravy simmers

  1. In a medium sauce pan heat chicken broth and add the bay leaf to it
  2. Separately add the flour to a glass or jar and fill with the water and stir or shake vigorously until the flour dissolves into the water
  3. Using a jar with a lid works very well for this so that you can shake the mixture vigorously and it practically guarantees no lumps
  4. Once the broth comes to a simmer, add the flour mixture and stir or whisk quickly so that the flour melts into the broth
  5. Add the butter and stir bringing the gravy back to a simmer
  6. Do not leave the gravy unattended and stir to keep it from burning or clumping up
  7. When your turkey is done and out of the oven, remove it from the roasting pan and place it onto a rimmed cutting board to rest
  8. Pour the turkey drippings from the pan into a measuring cup with a spout and then pour the drippings into a sieve to strain and add to the gravy
  9. Stir the drippings into the gravy and maintain a medium simmer until the gravy is smooth and creamy and you can no longer taste the flour
  10. Season with salt and pepper if needed, keeping in mind the chicken broth is already flavored

As an option, you can chop the turkey giblets small and add them to the gravy for extra flavor and texture. This is a ‘know your audience’ option as some folks are squeamish in this department. I love the giblets!

Also, sometimes we make the gravy right in the roasting pan and on two burners on the stove top. That works too, but I think the method above is easier and more efficient on a day when burners are at a premium. Also, it really helps prevent lumps in your gravy gives it a head start so that the base is already thick once the turkey drippings are available. When the gravy is done, just remove from heat and cover it until you are ready to use it. It can be warmed quickly and on the table in time for the rest f the meal.