If you’ve never prepared a whole Thanksgiving turkey, just the thought of it can be overwhelming. Even seasoned pros have a little bit of anxiety about roasting a turkey to perfection. The most ideal turkey is golden brown, seasoned perfectly, succulent and juicy, and picture perfect like the magazine covers.
After all, Thanksgiving Day is the most food-centric holiday in our country and it is the one day out of the year families from coast to coast gather together for the ultimate feast of feasts while remembering all the things they are thankful for.
Today I am sharing my method for roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. You want to make sure you start by brining a thawed turkey two days ahead of time to allow the turkey to soak up the water to counter moisture loss which is inevitable. This is why many turkey memories about dry and overcooked turkey scare people away from ever trying to roast a turkey in the first place. But brining the turkey in a salt and water bath ensures the turkey will remain moist and flavorful. Another tip I strongly recommend is investing in a meat thermometer. It is one of those handy kitchen gadgets which can be purchased for as little as $5 and will save you from your worst turkey nightmare from coming true. When you get about 2/3 into your cooking time, you will want to check the internal temperature of the turkey in the deepest part of the breast. This is when temperature trumps cooking time as the true measure of the turkey being done. The turkey should reach 165 degrees F when inserted in the breast before pulling it out of the oven. By allowing the turkey to rest 15-20 minutes before carving, the meat is allowed to hold on to its juices for a tender turkey your guests will love and you will get all the credit for.
This year, roast your Thanksgiving turkey in confidence. Just follow these simple tips and the recipe below. Enjoy!
Recipe: How to Roast the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
Roasting the Thanksgiving turkey doesn't need to be stressful with this helpful guide and recipe to help you make a succulent and delicious turkey dinner.
- Alice’s perfect brine (recipe here)
- one thawed whole turkey
- lemon cut in half
- apple cut in half
- onion cut in half
- 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 8 large stems thyme
- handful fresh sage
- olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper
Brine the turkey 1-2 days before roasting or at least 8 hours in advance.
Rinse the turkey off and pat dry. Set the turkey in a roasting pan (with rack)and stuff the cavity with the lemon, apple, onion, and fresh herbs.
Rub the outside of the turkey with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper.
Allow the turkey to rest in the pan for 2 hours before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Roast the turkey according to the cooking times below.
4 1/2-7 lbs. 2-2½ hrs.
7-9 lbs. 2½-3 hrs.
9-18 lbs. 3-3½ hrs.
18-22 lbs. 3½-4 hrs.
22-24 lbs. 4-4½ hrs.
24-30 lbs. 4½-5 hrs.
After the turkey has been roasting about ⅔ of the time through, loosely cover the breast and drumsticks with the foil to prevent overcooking and over-browning.
Pull the turkey out when my thermometer reaches 165 degrees F in the center breast and allow it to rest for 20 minutes on the counter (still tented) before serving.