How to Roast a Turkey

How to Roast a Turkey

Here’s how to roast a turkey to perfection, with minimal work.

  • Author: Erin Huffstetler,
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 45 minutes (up to 4 hours 15 minutes)
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: Varies
  • Category: Dinners
  • Method: Roast
  • Cuisine: Global


  • A turkey, thawed and ready to go
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 23 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 23 carrots, chopped
  • 1 stick of butter, brought to room temperature
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Your choice of fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme, etc.


Unwrap your turkey. If the legs are held together with a clip, remove it and set it aside. Then, remove the bag (or bags) containing the neck and giblets. Check both the neck and body cavity to make sure you’ve gotten everything.

Rinse the turkey (inside and out) with cold water. Then, pat dry with paper towels.

Place your turkey in a roasting pan. Use a wire rack, or vegetables, to raise the turkey off the bottom of the pan. Tuck the wing tips under the bird, so they don’t burn.

Combine poultry seasoning, salt and pepper to create your seasoning rub. Use some of it to season the inside of your turkey.

Then, stuff the cavity with your chopped veggies and fresh herbs, and secure the legs with the plastic clip that you removed earlier. A piece of baker’s twine will also work.

Gently loosen the skin from the breast meat at the top of your turkey. Start with your fingers; then, use a spatula as you begin to make progress. Try to get 2/3 of the way down.

Cut two tablespoon pats of butter. Lift the skin, and rub one into each breast.

Rub the rest of your butter on the outside of your turkey. Be thorough.

Then, rub your spices into the butter.

Pour a half-inch of broth into the bottom of the roasting pan (this will help to keep your turkey moist). Just make sure your turkey isn’t sitting in the broth.

Then, loosely wrap the breasts in foil, so they don’t cook faster than the rest of the turkey.

Place your oven rack, so that it’s in the bottom third of your oven, and roast your turkey at 325 degrees. Expect it to take 15-20 minutes per pound (but it could take more or less time, so you’ll need to watch it).

Your turkey is done¬†when the breasts reach 165 degrees and the thighs reach 180. Use a meat thermometer to confirm you’ve reached this temperature.

Remove the foil an hour before your turkey is done, so the breasts have time to brown.

Loosely cover your turkey in aluminum foil, as soon as you take it out of the oven, and allow it to rest for 15-30 minutes, so the juices have time to redistribute before you carve it. This is one of the secrets to a moist turkey.


  • You can use the pan drippings to baste your turkey as it cooks, but it isn’t necessary
  • Save the neck, giblets and pan drippings for gravy
  • Save the carcass to make turkey broth