How To Cook a Turkey Like a Boss
Learn how to cook a turkey like a boss with this easy step by step guide! Moist turkey, savory herbs, and a crispy skin make this the best roast turkey recipe you’ll ever try.
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How to Cook a Turkey Like a Boss
I’ll never forget my first turkey dinner. I had no idea how to cook a turkey so I called my mom and got the how-to over the phone. I now make 3-4 turkeys a year (it’s my husband’s favorite), and I want to share my tips and tricks for cooking a turkey perfectly with all of you.
Cook the turkey and enjoy an incredible family meal, then pack up the leftovers for a few days of microwavable turkey dinners!
Why You’ll Love This Roast Turkey Recipe
- Easy – Cooking a turkey in the oven is surprisingly simple to do — no need to be intimidated!
- Moist – This roast turkey recipe cooks the turkey by weight for perfectly cooked, moist turkey every time.
- Delicious – Savory herbs, buttery, moist meat, and crispy skin make this turkey a fan favorite.
Items You’ll Need to Make An Oven Roasted Turkey
I have included affiliate links for your convenience.
- Turkey Lifter
- Paper Towels
- Basting brush
- Meat thermometer
- I like to use digital thermometers so there’s no second-guessing myself.
- Garbage bags
Ingredients Needed for Cooking A Turkey
- Turkey – If you have a frozen turkey, be sure to safely thaw it. Check out this guide for how to thaw a turkey.
- Onion – Remove the head and slice in half.
- Head of Garlic + 4-5 Cloves – Remove the top of the garlic to expose the cloves.
- Butter – 2 Tbsp mixed with the salt, pepper, rosemary, and sage.
- Salt and Pepper – To taste.
- Rosemary – 2 fresh sprigs.
- Sage – 2 fresh sprigs.
- Poultry Seasoning – Optional but recommended!
How to Roast A Turkey
TBK’s Pro Tip: First things first — get everything you need out on the counter so you’re not scrambling with icky poultry hands touching everything!
Prepare the Turkey
Pre-heat your oven to 325.
Note your turkey’s weight and suggested time. Before you unwrap your turkey (I buy mine frozen), note how much it weighs and the suggested cooking time. In this case, my turkey is 8.8kg (19.4 pounds).
Unwrap your turkey in the sink (you want somewhere for all the juices to go).
Unhook the legs out of the wrap provided (sometimes it’s made out of turkey skin). Don’t cut the skin, as you will need it later. If it doesn’t come with a skin wrap, you can simply use foil or tie them back together with twine later.
Take out the neck and giblets. You can discard these or use them to make stock.
Rinse the turkey inside and out with cool water. Lift up the turkey and allow it to drain any debris or loose meat.
Dry inside and outside your turkey with paper towels. You want your turkey to be as dry as possible before putting it in the oven. Discard the paper towels.
Season the Turkey
This recipe does not call for stuffing the turkey with stuffing. Instead, I use herbs and vegetables to flavor the turkey.
Prepare stuffing veggies. Slice the onion in half and cut the top off the head of garlic. Place the head of garlic and 2 onion slices into the cavity of the turkey.
Make the butter mixture. Combine the butter with the salt and pepper, plus rosemary and sage (if using), until soft.
Spread butter mixture under the skin by loosening the skin from the meat. Then, you’ll take a handful of butter (feel free to glove up first), and slide your hand under the skin to spread the mixture around. Be sure to cover the breasts, thighs, and any nooks and crannies.
Season the outside of the turkey with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning (if using).
Wrap the legs back up. Use the skin wrap previously discussed or secure with foil or twine. Keeping the legs tightly closed keeps moisture from escaping from the cavity, which will help keep your turkey moist.
Place turkey in the roasting pan if you weren’t preparing the turkey in the pan already. Wash your hands, then disinfect your sink and anything else the raw turkey touched.
Roast the Turkey
Place the roasting pan in the preheated oven. Roast uncovered — about an hour to an hour and a half — until the skin is beautifully brown and crispy.
Cover the turkey if the skin is getting too brown, or if some parts seem to be cooking faster than others. You can use a lid if your roasting pan came with one, or you can tent your turkey with foil.
Baste the turkey. If you’d like, baste your turkey with the juices that have drained when you go to cover it. Note that basting adds flavor to the skin, but also adds moisture, which will reduce the crispiness. I rarely baste my turkey because I like my skin crispy.
Finish roasting for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 165 and the juices run clear. Most frozen turkeys come with suggested cook times based on weight, so be sure to note your suggested cook time.
How to Cook A Turkey in the Oven to Be Moist
How to cook a turkey in the oven to be moist: the key to cooking a moist turkey is to cook it low and slow. Cook at a lower temperature (like 325) for longer, rather than cooking at 425 for less time. Blasts of high heat zap the moisture out of your turkey.
As for cooking times, I usually roast mine for a total of 3 1/2 – 4 hours. The exact, perfect time to cook your oven roasted turkey will depend on weight. I cook until the meat thermometer reads at least 165F in the breast (180 in the thigh), but it usually reads 170 in the breast.
Usually, the frozen turkey will have a suggested cook time. If yours doesn’t (like mine this time around), refer to this chart:
Allow your turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to settle so they don’t run while you’re carving (keeping the meat nice and moist).
While you wait, you can get the gravy and other sides ready!
That’s it — now it’s time to carve that sucker up and enjoy a feast with your family and friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I serve with my roasted turkey?
I have so many side dish recipes that go well with turkey! Try my homemade turkey stuffing and turkey gravy, or add traditional sides such as a salad, mashed potatoes, buns, cranberry sauce, or roasted vegetables!
What do I do with the leftovers?
And you can never go wrong with a good old fashioned turkey sandwich!
How do I prevent my turkey from drying out?
See my above instructions for how to cook a turkey in the oven to be moist.
If your oven roasted turkey still has a tendency to turn out dry and overcooked, pull it out and check the temperature before you typically do. You can always cook it for a few more minutes, but you can’t take time back once it’s overcooked.
However, avoid checking the temperature too often. Every time you open your oven to check the temperature or baste, you release heat, requiring your turkey to cook for even longer. You want to cook low and slow, but you still don’t want to cook it for too long.
More Turkey Recipes
How to Cook a Turkey Like a Boss
- 1 12-14 lbs turkey thawed (if bought frozen)
- 1 onion
- 1 head of garlic + 4 to 5 cloves
- 2 sprigs rosemary and sage each
- 2 tbsps butter
- Salt & pepper
- Optional: poultry spice
Preheat oven to 325
- Prep the turkey by unwrapping, rinsing, and patting dry. Make sure the neck and bag of giblets are out.
- Place turkey in the roaster.
- Cut the onion in half, and cut the top off the head of garlic. Shove in the cavity. (If you are stuffing the turkey, do this instead.)
- Go in between the skin and the meat and add butter, garlic, herbs. The additional garlic cloves can be slid under the skin whole or chopped up. I prefer a rough chop.
- Rub the skin with salt, pepper, some sage (or poultry seasoning if you have none).
- Wrap the legs back up with the skin.
- Roast, uncovered, for an hour or until the skin is getting beautifully brown and crispy.
- Cover it with the pan’s lid or foil and roast for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, or until or until 165F in the breast (180 in the thigh) and juices run clear.
- When you take it out of the oven, let it stand (covered) for at least 30 minutes before carving.
Also, be sure to check out my Enormous List of Cooking and Baking Must Haves.
What’s your favorite side dish that goes along with turkey dinner?
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