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How To Roast A Turkey

Learn how to roast a turkey with this easy method! I’ll walk you through the steps below to make the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving or any other occasion!

Cooking a turkey does take a few steps but they’re all pretty simple and straightforward. Here I’ll share my favorite no-fuss method that you can serve with your favorite holiday side dishes.

Close up of roasted turkey covered in baked herbs, on a plate with sliced lemon and fresh herbs on the bottom.

Easy Roasted Turkey Recipe

Cooking turkey for the first time might feel intimidating, I totally get it. It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I even attempted to give it a try. I

I’m all about the no-fuss methods that give you maximum results, and that’s what I’m going to share.

Here’s a quick overview:

  • THAW THE TURKEY: This usually takes 2-3 days depending on the size of the turkey. I wrote a whole blog post on how to thaw a turkey, but the best method is to thaw in the fridge while still in the package. If you let the turkey sit in cold water, the turkey will also thaw faster.
  • BRINE THE TURKEY (optional): This step is optional, but it can make a big difference! On the last day of thawing the turkey, you can brine it in a mixture of herbs, sugar, salt and water for 12-24 hours. The result is moist and juicy turkey meat. See my favorite easy turkey brine recipe for more information.
  • PREP THE TURKEY: After thawing turkey, it should be dried with paper towel. Next, the giblets are removed, and the turkey cavity is stuffed. The legs are tied and wings are tucked. After that, the skin is smothered in oil (or butter) and seasonings.
  • ROAST THE TURKEY: The turkey is baked in a large roasting pan with a rack on the bottom. This will take a few hours, so most people prefer to start the process in the early morning. The size of your turkey will vary the time needed to cook.
  • SERVE: Let the turkey rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting into it. Now the turkey can be carved and served. Any leftover bones or unwanted pieces can be used to create homemade turkey broth.

That’s the basic overview, but I’ll walk through these steps in more detail below.

Recipe ingredients on the counter including raw turkey, plate of parsley, bowl of chopped garlic and onion, fresh herbs and oil.

Recipe Ingredients

THAWED TURKEY: If the turkey is frozen, you will need to thaw it for a couple of days in the fridge before roasting. See my tips on how long to thaw a frozen turkey.

FRESH HERBS: If you can find fresh poultry herb blends at your grocery store, these save time and effort! I use them in the roasting and brining process (brining a turkey is optional but adds flavor to the meat).

GARLIC AND ONION: I prefer to make my stuffing separately. Instead, I add crushed garlic, chopped onion, and half a bunch of parsley to the inside cavity of the turkey.

OIL: Olive oil, vegetable oil or coconut oil can be used to coat the skin of the turkey. Many people also like to use melted butter. It’s okay of the butter or coconut oil harden once on the skin – it will melt again as it heats in the oven.

SALT AND PEPPER: The skin is generously seasoned with salt and pepper before baking.

Equipment Needed

You’ll need a few things to make this recipe:

MEAT THERMOMETER: A meat thermometer is an important tool for ensuring your turkey is properly cooked. These aren’t expensive and can be used to check all different meats for doneness (chicken, beef and pork).

ROASTING PAN WITH RACK: A roasting pan with rack is the perfect way to roast turkey and ham. It’s important to have a rack in the pan to ensure that hot air circulates to create even cooking and a crispier skin on the bottom of the turkey.

PAPER TOWEL: Used to pat the turkey dry thoroughly before seasoning.

CUTTING BOARD AND CARVING KNIFE: For carving the turkey.

Four images together: first with paper towel over turkey, second with raw turkey, parsley and onion in turkey cavity. Third with raw turkey in roasting pan covered with fresh herbs. Four is roasted turkey in pan.

How To Roast a Turkey

  1. PREP: First, thaw the turkey for 2-3 days (TIP: how long to thaw a turkey), and brine the turkey (this step is optional but creates moist juicy turkey meat).
  2. SEASON: If the turkey has giblets and inside the cavity, remove them (not all turkeys will have these included). Mix the oil and herbs. Rub all over the turkey skin.
  3. STUFFING: Stuffing mix can be added to the cavity of the turkey, or left out. Personally, I prefer to make the stuffing separately as it can take longer for the turkey to cook. Instead, I prefer to add onion, garlic and parsley to the cavity while roasting. These vegetables can be saved for making homemade turkey broth.
  4. TIE THE LEGS: Some legs will already be tied together (like mine were). If not, you can tie them together with bakers twine. The turkey wings should be folded and tucked underneath so that they don’t burn (here’s a video for how to truss a turkey).
  5. ROAST: Preheat the oven to 350°F, then reduce the heat to 325°F once the turkey is in. The turkey will be done when it reaches 165°F with a meat thermometer poked into the thickest part of the turkey breast. Once breasts start to brown, the turkey can be loosely covered with foil.
  6. REST THEN CARVE: Remove from roasting pan and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Now it can be carved (here’s a quick video on how to carve a turkey). I always save the carcass, any vegetables inside the cavity and other unwanted pieces for making homemade turkey broth and my favorite healthy turkey carcass soup.
Close up of roasted turkey in pan with herbs on top.

Turkey Roasting Tips

What Temperature To Roast Turkey:

I prefer to preheat my oven to 350°F, then turn it down to 325°F once the turkey is in. A slow-roasted turkey will be juicy and tender and won’t dry out the meat.

How Long To Roast Turkey:

A stuffed turkey will take longer to cook than an unstuffed turkey. The cook times below are a great guideline to get started. However, these are approximate and will vary.

  • 8 to 12 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 2¾ to 3 hours Stuffed: 3 to 3½ hours
  • 12 to 14 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 3 to 3¾ hours Stuffed: 3½ to 4 hours
  • 14 to 18 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 3¾ to 4¼ hours Stuffed: 4 to 4¼ hours
  • 18 to 20 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 4¼ to 4½ hours Stuffed: 4¼ to 4¾ hours
  • 20 to 24 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 4½ to 5 hours Stuffed: 4¾ to 5¼ hours

According to the USDA, a turkey is done when your food thermometer reaches 165°F when poked through the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and thickest part of the breast (without touching the bone).

If you’re cooking stuffing inside the turkey, check the center of the stuffing with food thermometer as well. It should also reach 165°F. Once cooked, remove the stuffing immediately and cover with foil or a lid.

Let the turkey rest 15-20 minutes for juices to settle. Then it will be ready to carve, serve and enjoy!

Sliced turkey and drumsticks on a white dish with sliced lemon and fresh rosemary.

Side Dishes To Serve With Turkey

Did you love this turkey recipe? Be sure to leave a rating below!

How To Roast A Turkey

An easy, no-fuss recipe using fresh herbs and simple seasonings.
Print Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 12-14 lb thawed turkey
  • 1 yellow onion - chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves - mashed
  • ½ bunch of fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup olive oil - coconut oil or melted butter
  • 1 package fresh poultry herb blend - chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    Remove giblets from turkey. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towel. Place the turkey in the roasting pan breast side up.
  • Remove herbs from thick stems, and roughly chop into smaller pieces. Add to a bowl with olive oil and mix.
    Rub the oil herb blend over all the turkey skin. Season with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings underneath.
  • Place the turkey in the oven, and reduce the heat to 325°F. Bake until turkey reaches 165°F when poked with a meat thermometer (see notes). Actual cooking time will vary. Once the breast starts to brown, loosely cover with foil to prevent burning.
  • Once fully cooked, let the turkey rest for 15-30 minutes. Carve into slices, serve and enjoy!
    Save the leftover carcass and unwanted pieces for making turkey broth.

Recipe Notes:

A stuffed turkey will take longer to cook than an unstuffed turkey. The cook times below are a great guideline to get started. However, these are approximate and will vary.
  • 8 to 12 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 2¾ to 3 hours Stuffed: 3 to 3½ hours
  • 12 to 14 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 3 to 3¾ hours Stuffed: 3½ to 4 hours
  • 14 to 18 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 3¾ to 4¼ hours Stuffed: 4 to 4¼ hours
  • 18 to 20 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 4¼ to 4½ hours Stuffed: 4¼ to 4¾ hours
  • 20 to 24 lbs Unstuffed turkey: 4½ to 5 hours Stuffed: 4¾ to 5¼ hours
According to the USDA, a turkey is done when your food thermometer reaches 165°F when poked through the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing, and thickest part of the breast (without touching the bone).
If using stuffing, check the center of the stuffing with food thermometer as well. It should also reach 165°F. Once cooked, remove the stuffing immediately and cover with foil or a lid.
Nutrition
Sodium: 552mg | Calcium: 54mg | Vitamin C: 6mg | Vitamin A: 462IU | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 908mg | Cholesterol: 278mg | Calories: 602kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Fat: 27g | Protein: 84g | Carbohydrates: 2g | Iron: 4mg

Please note these nutritional values provided above are just an estimate. Actual numbers will vary based on brands and ingredients you choose, and your preferred portion sizes.

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