Best Roasted Turkey We’ve Ever Made

This is truly the best roasted turkey I’ve made. Use our turkey recipe for turkey with amazing flavor, soft and tender meat, and crispy skin. We highly recommend it to anyone preparing a turkey, especially for Thanksgiving!

Best Roast Turkey Recipe Video

We don’t roast turkey very often, but when we do, we go all in. My secret weapon is our homemade turkey butter, packed with butter, garlic, and herbs. We tuck it under the skin for incredible flavor, color, and moisture, then brush it all over the outside. It’s a lot of butter, but trust me, it’s worth it!

This is my favorite turkey recipe for Thanksgiving, but you can enjoy it any time of year. For smaller gatherings, use our recipe for garlic herb roasted turkey breast.

Thanksgiving Turkey Timeline

If you are like us, you don’t roast many turkeys throughout the year. Most of us really only roast them around the holiday season. Here’s our timeline for thawing, brining, and roasting a turkey. I will use Thursday as our goal since that’s how Thanksgiving falls in the US, but you can move the days around to fit your intended roasting day.

This timeline assumes a thawed turkey. I’ve shared our tips for thawing turkey below.

  • Monday: Brine the turkey (yep, we brine turkey and love it). Here’s my favorite turkey brine, which I use to make the roasted turkey in our video.
  • Wednesday night: Remove turkey from brine, and air-dry in the refrigerator overnight (for best crispy skin)
  • Thursday: Roast the turkey, allowing approximately 14 minutes per pound, in an oven preheated to 325°F (162° C). See below for the best roasted turkey we made in a long time.

How to Make the Best Thanksgiving Turkey

The key to the best juicy whole roasted turkey is fat. Everyone wants juicy turkey, but the truth is that turkey is lean. That’s why we recommend using lots of our herb butter. Most of the year, you won’t catch me stuffing this much butter into anything, but I make an exception for turkey, especially Thanksgiving turkey.

Adding herb butter to turkey before roasting

I also baste my turkey while it roasts and recommend that you do the same. Basting fat over the skin keeps it moist and flavorful. Notice I said basting fat. That’s the important part. Spooning broth over the skin doesn’t do much, you need to spoon over the fat! A turkey baster is your friend here. Use it to gather the layer of fat sitting on top of the broth in the roasting pan. That fat will work wonders for the turkey skin. I baste my turkey every 30 minutes or so.

I roast my turkey in an oven preheated to 325°F. The cooking time depends on the size of your turkey and your oven. You want to roast whole turkey for approximately 14 minutes per pound. So, a 15-pound turkey will roast for 3 ½ hours.

Our Best Roast Turkey

The best way to tell if a turkey is done is to use a food thermometer. Check the temperature in several spots, especially in the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. It’s wise to check both sides of the turkey.

I remove my turkey from the oven when its internal temperature reaches 160°F. The USDA recommends 165°F, but in my experience, carry-over cooking raises the temperature further. As a visual cue, you want to roast turkey until the juices run clear from the thigh after piercing it with a knife.

Once the turkey is out of the oven, let it rest for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. Lightly covering it with foil will keep it hot while you carve it. If you need to keep it warm for over an hour, place it in an oven set to 200°F and cover it with foil to prevent it from drying out.

My Tips and Tricks for the Best Roast Turkey

How to thaw a whole turkey: To safely thaw a turkey, do it in the refrigerator. Plan on 24 hours in the fridge for every four to five pounds of turkey. A 15-pound turkey will take three to four days to thaw, so you would begin thawing it the Thursday before Thanksgiving. To speed up thawing, you can thaw it in cold water (allow 30 minutes of thawing per pound of turkey). Change the cold water every 30 minutes, and if your turkey is not completely covered, rotate it every 30 minutes to keep it chilled. A well-insulated cooler is helpful for this.

Trussing a turkey: We truss our turkey before roasting—position twine around the bird, tucking it slightly underneath the neck end. Bring the twine up and around the wings, pushing them towards the breast. Cross the twine at the cavity, forming an X, and then tie the ends of the drumsticks together.

Trussing a turkey

Brining a turkey: We brine our turkey and highly recommend it. Don’t think of brining as a way to keep your turkey moist and juicy. Instead, brining is for FLAVOR and texture. Brined turkey is more flavorful and tender. We wrote a helpful article about brining a turkey with photos and a video showing how we do it.

Brining a turkey

Stuffing a turkey: We do not stuff turkey or recommend it. It’s an excellent way to overcook your turkey since the stuffing will often take longer to come to temperature than the turkey itself. Keep stuffing on the side.

The best turkey gravy: I use only one gravy recipe for Thanksgiving, and it’s the one shared in our video. To make the gravy in our video and photos, use this turkey gravy recipe that uses all those delicious pan drippings!

Popular Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Our Best Roast Turkey

Best Roasted Turkey We've Ever Made

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Use our oven roasted turkey recipe for turkey with amazing flavor, soft and tender meat, and crispy skin. We highly recommend it to anyone preparing a turkey for Thanksgiving!

We brine and air-dry our turkey; here’s our turkey brine recipe to see how we do it. You can make an excellent gravy using the pan drippings (highly recommended). Air-drying the turkey in the fridge the night before we roast it also helps with getting that crisp, golden brown skin.

14 servings (assuming 15-pound turkey)

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

Roast Turkey

1 (12 to 20 pound) turkey, brined (recommended) and trussed

Turkey butter, recipe below

1 large onion, cut into eight wedges

2 carrots, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

5 cloves garlic, smashed

8 fresh thyme sprigs

4 sage leaves

2 quarts (8 cups or 1.8L) chicken stock

Herb Turkey Butter

1 pound (460 grams) salted butter, softened

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon (5 grams) coarse ground pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or Pickapepper sauce

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 cup (14 grams) parsley leaves

1/4 cup (7 grams) sage leaves

2 tablespoons (5 grams) fresh thyme leaves

Directions

  • Make Turkey Butter
  • 1Pulse all the turkey butter ingredients in a food processor until chopped. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then pulse a few more times until smooth.

  • Prepare Turkey
  • 1Preheat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit (162° C) and adjust the oven racks so that the turkey will fit.

    2Place the onion, carrot, celery, garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, sage leaves, and chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan. Set a roasting rack into the pan, suspended above the ingredients.

    3Add a quarter of the turkey butter to a small saucepan over low heat. Melt the butter, and then remove from the heat. Set aside.

    4Place the turkey on the roasting rack. Use your hands to create a pocket between the skin and breast meat. Use a knife or scissors to make a hole where the drums meet the thighs.

    5Rub the remaining turkey butter into the pockets under the skin and the holes near the thighs. Massage the butter to create an even layer underneath the skin — this is a messy job, but well worth it for impact flavor! I use almost all of the butter. Depending on how large your turkey is, you may only need some of it. Alternatively, if you have a disposable piping bag, pipe the butter under the skin and into the holes in the legs, then massage the butter around.

    6Flip the turkey over so that it is breast-side-down on the roasting rack. Brush some of the melted turkey butter all over the back of the turkey. Flip the turkey back so that the breast side faces up, and then brush the remaining melted butter all over the top (all this butter will make the turkey incredible). Lightly season with salt and pepper.

  • Cook the Turkey
  • 1Roast the turkey for approximately 14 minutes per pound, checking and basting with the fat on top of the broth in the pan every half hour. If the liquid level drops too low in the pan, add some water to replace it. I rotate the pan every hour for even browning. For a 15-pound turkey, it will take 3 ½ hours.

    2When the turkey is about two shades lighter than you want in color, tent it with foil and roast until an internal thermometer inserted into a few areas (breast and thighs) reads 160° Fahrenheit (71° C). Check both sides of the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone. As a visual cue, you want to roast turkey until the juices run clear from the thigh after piercing it with a knife.

    3Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour before carving. To keep warm after resting, place into an oven set to 200°F (93°C). To prevent it from drying out, loosely cover it with foil.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Unsalted butter: When making the turkey butter, if you have unsalted butter instead of salted, add an additional teaspoon of fine sea salt to the butter mixture.
  • Helpful equipment: Brine bag or 5-gallon bucket (optional if brining), large roasting pan with rack, disposable piping bag, food-grade nitrile gloves (for massaging the butter), basting/pastry brush, and turkey baster.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. Calories and fat are likely a bit off because much of the butter melts down to baste the bird and eventually ends up in the bottom of the pan.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1/14 servings / Calories 539 / Total Fat 21.7g / Saturated Fat 11g / Cholesterol 278.3mg / Sodium 709.8mg / Carbohydrate 2.9g / Dietary Fiber 0.6g / Total Sugars 0.8g / Protein 81.3g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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33 comments… Leave a Review
  • Claudia Smith December 22, 2023, 5:00 pm

    Highly recommended! Our turkey was so moist even after putting the leftovers in the fridge. The taste was spectacular even cold. Thank you guys for sharing this recipe. From now on this is the recipe I will be using every holiday.Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Adam December 23, 2023, 5:14 pm

      You are so welcome and we really appreciate you taking the time to leave a review. So glad you enjoyed your turkey 🙂

      Reply
  • Cindy Gamez December 19, 2023, 8:32 pm

    This was the first time making this recipe and it was a huge hit with the Family! They want me to make it next year!! I wonder could i use this recipe for roasting a chicken?

    Reply
    • Adam December 23, 2023, 5:23 pm

      So glad that it was a hit. Using this recipe on a chicken would be delicious 🙂

      Reply

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