Learn how to roast a turkey that is tender, juicy and packed with flavor. This oven baked turkey is so easy and really delicious.

roasted turkey on platter with lemon wedges

The perfect roast turkey recipe

We have the best recipe for roast turkey. It is very simple and we break it down step by step. No worries about dry or flavorless turkey because this recipe is amazing.

If you have ever eaten turkey that was less than stellar, you know what I mean.

With just a few simple ingredients and a couple of tips, you will be able to make the best turkey in the oven ever! Give it a try.

What size Turkey should I buy?

Generally, I figure about 1.5 pounds per person for Thanksgiving. This will allow for enough turkey and you’ll have some leftovers too.

So if you are having 10 people over for Thanksgiving, you would need approximately a 15 pound turkey.

Let’s get started!

What type of pan is needed?

You will need a roasting pan for this recipe. However, you do not need a fancy pan for roasting a turkey.

You can also use a disposable roasting pan for this recipe and it works great too.

How to prepare turkey:

  • First, the turkey needs to be fully thawed.
  • Also, make sure to take the turkey out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for one hour before baking. This will help the turkey to cook faster and more evenly.
  • You will need to remove the neck and giblets from the turkey.
  • The butter mixture is the last step and gets rubbed all over the turkey.

How to thaw a turkey:

The turkey needs to be thawed properly. You will need to allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey to thaw in a refrigerator.

I place the frozen turkey on a ribbed baking sheet when I place it in the refrigerator to thaw. This will catch all the excess liquid that drips off the turkey as it thaws.

uncooked turkey and seasonings needed to cook turkey

Ingredients for oven baked turkey:

  • Whole Turkey – fully thawed
  • Butter – softened – I use unsalted butter so that the turkey is not too salty once it’s prepared.
  • Minced Garlic – You can also use a small amount of garlic salt if you prefer.
  • Salt and pepper
roasted turkey on platter

Can you add fresh herbs to this recipe?

Yes, you can easily add any fresh or dried herbs that you prefer to the butter mixture that is rubbed on the turkey.

I love just this basic turkey recipe but you can add any fresh herbs that you prefer. Rosemary or Thyme would be delicious on this roasted turkey recipe.

How to roast a turkey:

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You will need to move the oven rack 1 level lower than the center of the oven.

Second, get out a small mixing bowl. Combine the butter, garlic, salt and pepper together.

butter mixture in bowl

Next, remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. Also, tuck the wings under the turkey. Another option is to tie back the wings of the turkey if you prefer instead of just tucking.

Now, grab some paper towels and dry with paper towels by patting the turkey. Once it is dry, place the turkey in a roasting pan that has a roasting rack with the turkey breast side up.

Coat the turkey skin with the butter mixture you combined earlier. Make sure to get this all over the turkey.

uncooked turkey in roasting pan coated with butter

Make a tent on top of the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent the turkey from browning too much.

Finally, cook the turkey based on the size of the turkey. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when the thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the turkey.

When the turkey is finished cooking, remove the turkey and let it rest for 30 minutes to 60 minutes. I normally do the 60 minutes. Then the turkey is ready to carve.

roasted turkey on a platter with lemon wedges

How long to cook a turkey in a roaster

The cooking time is based on the size of the turkey and is approximately 14 – 15 minutes per pound but make sure to check the turkey with a meat thermometer before removing it from the oven. The turkey needs to reach an internal temperature 165 degrees F.

  • A 12-15 lb turkey will take approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours.
  • A 15-20 lb turkey will take approximately 2 ½ – 3 hours.
  • A 20-24 lb turkey will take approximately 3 – 3 ½ hours.

What meat thermometer is best?

We prefer a digital meat thermometer because it is so much easier to read. They are inexpensive and very handy. You will love having this on hand when cooking meat.

roast turkey on a platter with lemon wedges

Do you roast a turkey covered or uncovered?

It is best to cover the turkey so it does not get too brown. We normally cover the turkey with foil by making a tent over the pan.

This helps to prevent the turkey from getting too brown before the turkey has finished cooking. You can remove the foil in the last few minutes of cooking to get that golden brown color if you prefer.

Save the turkey Drippings:

After the turkey is done cooking, make sure to save the juices from the bottom of your roasting pan to make turkey gravy.

This gravy is so easy to make with the turkey drippings (in under 20 minutes!) and it adds a delicious flavor to this roasted turkey.

How to carve a turkey:

Carving a turkey is not as hard as it sounds. First, remove the thighs from the turkey by cutting them off at the joint.

Then remove the breast meat by carving off each breast at the breast bone.

Then remove the wings by cutting off the joint as well. Next slice the turkey into serving size portions.

I usually portion out the breast meat and the dark meat for easy serving.

Tips:

  • Do not rinse the turkey. Rinsing the turkey is not needed. This will only get battery in your sink and give you a bigger mess to clean up. Any bacteria on the turkey will cook off in the oven.
  • Do not use melted butter. Use softened butter instead. If the butter is completely melted, it just rolls off the turkey and tastes the seasonings with it. Softened butter holds the butter and seasonings on the skin of the turkey.
  • Make sure to allow the turkey time to rest after baking. It can be tempting to slice it too soon but try to wait. This allows the juices and all that flavor to stay inside.
  • Use a cutting board to carve the turkey.
  • I don’t recommend brining or basting the turkey. If you buy a good quality turkey. Brining or basting is not needed. I never brine or baste my turkey and it comes out delicious and golden brown every time.

Print the perfect roast turkey recipe below:

How to Roast a Turkey

4.88 from 8 votes
Learn how to roast a turkey that is tender, juicy and packed with flavor. This oven baked turkey is so easy and really delicious.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Cool 30 mins
Total Time 4 hrs
Servings 12
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Calories 524
Author Eating on a Dime

Ingredients

  • 12-24 lb Whole Turkey fully thawed
  • 1/2 cup Butter softened
  • 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack 1 level lower than the center of the oven.
  • Mix the butter, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small mixing bowl.
  • Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. Turk the wings under the turkey. You can tie back the wings of the turkey if you prefer.
  • Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and place it on a roasted pan with a roasting rack.
  • Rub the butter mixture all over the skin of the turkey.
  • Then tent the top of the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent the turkey from browning too much.
  • Cook the turkey based on the size of the turkey and use a meat thermometer to ensure that the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when the thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the turkey. The bake time will be approximately 14-15 minutes per pound but make sure to check the turkey with a meat thermometer before removing it from the oven.
  • Let the turkey rest for 30-60 minutes.
  • Remove the turkey to a serving platter, carve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Calories 524kcal, Carbohydrates 1g, Protein 70g, Fat 26g, Saturated Fat 10g, Trans Fat 1g, Cholesterol 252mg, Sodium 1010mg, Potassium 733mg, Fiber 1g, Sugar 1g, Vitamin A 420IU, Vitamin C 1mg, Calcium 41mg, Iron 3mg

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How to roast a turkey in the oven. If you're looking for how to make turkey dinner, this recipe is for you! This easy roasted turkey recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or New Year’s Eve!  You are going to love this easy roasted turkey recipe.  #eatingonadime #turkeyrecipes #ovenrecipe #roastedturkey
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Hi, I’m Carrie. Welcome to Eating on a Dime!

I’m on a mission to help you cook delicious meals without busting your budget. Together we are going to cook real food… for real families.

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