My family has been making this moist stuffed turkey recipe for years. The moist, juicy pieces of oven-roasted turkey are nicely complimented by the turkey stuffing and gravy.

Whole Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey with All the Sides
Whole Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey with All the Sides

It takes a little time to prepare, but the steps are simple, and anyone can make a delicious turkey meal. Our favorite pointers for achieving perfection can be found in the instructions below! I like turkey for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and sometimes in the middle of the summer, I decide it’s turkey time!

My goal is to help you overcome any fears or doubts you may have about cooking a perfect turkey for your family. There’s no brining, no basting, no cooking it upside down (which I think is a little strange), and you won’t even need an expensive roasting pan with this method.

A beautiful, juicy, and perfectly cooked turkey will result from this recipe.

Carving roasted turkey on a server tray

What size turkey to buy?

The general rule of thumb is 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey per person.

  • 4 people 4-6 lb. (1.8-2.7kg) turkey
  • 6 people 6-9 lb. turkey (2.7-4kg)
  • 8 people 8-12 lb. turkey (3.6-5.4kg)
  • 10 people 10-15 lb. turkey (4.5-6.8)

How to Thaw the turkey?

You’ll want to prepare ahead of time because thawing a turkey might take several days. One day for every five pounds is a fair rule of thumb. Because it may release some liquid, you should place a cookie sheet or a basin underneath it.

Frozen Turkey thawing in a basin before going into the fridge
A frozen turkey is thawing in a kitchen sink

Overview of cooking a turkey: Further down I will have more instructions for you

  • Season turkey: Remove the giblets and neck. Not all turkeys will come with these. I sometimes get utility birds and they don’t have all the giblets, and other times I get an organic turkey and it comes with none, so it just depends on the turkey you get.
  • Stuff the turkey: Stuff it with an onion, quartered lemon, apple, and herbs, or use our favorite stuffing recipe.
  • Tie the legs: tie the legs and tuck the wings under this to prevent them from burning. If you are really concerned with the wings burning, you can cover them in aluminum foil.
  • Roast: Bake your turkey until it is cooked and golden brown (I will provide you with cooking times below).
  • Let Rest: The turkey needs to rest. This gives it time to reabsorb the juices. Ideally, you want it to sit for 30–45 minutes.

Let’s prepare the turkey for roasting:

Thaw If the turkey is frozen be sure to allow time for it to thaw can take several days

  • 14 – 18 pounds: 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 days
  • 18 – 22 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 days
  • 22 – 24 pounds: 5 1/2 to 6 days
  • 24 – 30 pounds: 6 to 7 days

Remove giblets/neck: The giblets and neck should be removed from the cavity. I normally bake them alongside the turkey in the same pan. This gives your drippings a lot of richness. You can also use them in a dripping gravy.

Dry with paper towel: Pat your turkey dry with a paper towel. This will help you get a nice golden brown turkey.

Season in this recipe, you will rub your turkey with olive oil or butter, with salt and pepper, and a few spices.

Tips for homemade stuffing

Of course, this step is optional. If you’re not wanting to do stuffing, as I have said before, you can just season the inside of the turkey with lemon, apples, garlic, and herbs. That will still flavor your bird quite nicely.

If you are going to stuff your turkey here are a few steps to help you

  • Prepare the stuffing recipe according to the recipe.
  • Cool the stuff. This is an important step to avoid bacteria. I like to make my stuffing 24 hours before, or if I’m putting my turkey in the oven in the afternoon, I will make it and put it together in the morning so it has a chance to cool down. (Also, it is a lot easier to stuff your turkey if the stuffing is cooled.)
  • Do not jam the stuffing into the turkey’s main cavity; spoon it in gently, add a little bit to the neck cavity, and seal the flap with a metal skewer so the stuffing doesn’t fall out. I always find that there is extra stuffing, so I put it in a loaf pan or a casserole.

What temperature to cook a turkey

I like to cook a turkey at 350° F and then lower it too 325° F it will come out perfectly juicy and tender being cooked at a lower and slower temperature.

How long to cook a turkey

A turkey is considered fully cooked when the meat and center of the stuffing reaches 165°F. I like to use a digital thermometer because it makes it a lot easier and quicker to find the temperature of meat. Place your turkey in a roasting pan. I recommend a good one with a lid. The disposable ones just don’t hold the heat very well and are not very sturdy with a 12-14 pound turkey inside.

Roasted Turkey

slow roasted turkey, juicy golden and delicious
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
rest time 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 189 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Roasting Pan

Ingredients
  

  • 12-14 pound turkey
  • ¼ cup olive oil or butter
  • ½ cup herbs parsley, rosemary, sage and or thyme
  • 1 stuffing recipe
  • onions lemon, and fresh herbs optional
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey broth

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavity and pat turkey dry with paper towels. If stuffing the turkey, wipe the inside of the cavity with paper towels.
  • Rub olive oil and chopped herbs over turkey and season generously with salt/pepper.
  • If stuffing turkey, fill with stuffing loosely add ½ an onion and fresh herbs to the cavity.
  • Tie legs together with kitchen string or tuck under the flap of skin at the tail if your turkey has one. Twist the tips of the wings under the turkey.
  • Place turkey in a roasting pan on a rack, breast side up (optional, . Add 4 cups broth to the  bottom of the pan (see note for another option)
  • Add turkey to the oven, reduce heat to 325°F and roast until turkey reaches 165°F *see below. Once the breast starts to brown, loosely tent a piece of foil over the breast so it doesn't overcook or if your roaster comes with a lid place it ontop
  • Remove turkey from the roasting pan and tent with foil, rest at least 20 minutes.  Make gravy from the drippings while the turkey rests.

Notes

* I have also used a couple cans of beer in the bottom of the pan instead of chicken or turkey stock i find it give it a nice flavor and all the alcohol is cooked off by time you want to use it for gravy. (also give the gravy and really nice flavor)
Keyword christmas, easter, roasted, thanksgiving, turkey

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram or Facebook #tiannaskitchen.