It seems like roasting a turkey stresses a lot of people out, like it’s some mystical secret.  I know I get a little nervous about it every year, even though I’ve been roasting a turkey on Thanksgiving for the last 18 years.  I also know that’s a little crazy to be nervous about it because every year it turns out just fine.

So I thought I would de-mystify turkey roasting and share the basics.  I think one of the biggest things is to be flexible about the timing.  Sometimes it seems like my turkey cooks up really fast and other years it seems to take longer.  What works perfectly for me is to put my sides in the oven while the turkey rests.  The sides usually take about 30 minutes to cook and the turkey needs to rest for about 20 to 30 minutes before you carve it.  If your turkey ends up being done too early that’s OK too, because as long as you leave it under a foil tent, it will stay warm while you get the rest of dinner ready.

If you follow these instructions, you’ll have a  perfect roast turkey on your table this Thanksgiving!

Roast Turkey

  • 12-14 lb turkey
  • olive oil
  • poultry seasoning
  • salt
  • pepper
  • kitchen twine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Unwrap turkey (I find it easiest to do this in the sink), remove neck and giblets.  Rinse turkey in cool water and pat dry with paper towels.

Place turkey in a large roasting pan.  If you have a roasting rack, you’ll want to use that as well.  If you don’t have one, don’t stress out about it, your turkey will still turn out fine.

Tie legs together with kitchen twine.

Drizzle olive oil over the turkey and rub into the skin.  Sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and rub that into the skin as well.

Roast in preheated oven, uncovered, for about 2-3 hours.  The cooking time will depend on your oven and how big your turkey is. You can use 15 minutes per pound as a guide.  My oven always seems to cook the turkey fast.  This turkey was 13 lbs and it was done in about 2 hours.  You’ll know it’s done when the thigh meat is 170 degrees or when the juices run clear if you cut into it.  If the skin starts to get too dark, cover the turkey loosely with a piece of foil.

Once the turkey is done, let it rest, loosely covered with foil for about 20-30 minutes.  After that, carve and serve with all of your wonderful Thanksgiving sides!




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