Simple, Delicious Roast Turkey

Tom Turkey
So you’ve brined your bird and now you want to know how to oven roast him.  Don’t be fooled – Tom Turkey may look big and bossy, but he’s actually the easiest part of the entire Thanksgiving meal! The reason I like the technique of brining so much is that it front-loads your turkey!  In other words, the brine does all the work ahead of time so when you’re ready to cook your turkey, you simply rinse him off, pat him dry, give him a rub down with a little oil and into the oven he goes!  Yes, it is really THAT simple.

For my favorite brine recipe, click here


Turkey Roasting Aromatics

1 yellow onion, halved
1 lemon, halved
1 orange, halved
1 head garlic, halved
2 bundles each fresh thyme, rosemary, and/or sage, divided use
Vegetable or canola oil, for a pre-oven massage
Kitchen string

Roasting the Turkey

Move the oven rack to the lowest level and preheat the oven to 500˚F.
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse to remove any of the fresh herbs that may have stuck to the skin; pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine and thoroughly wash the cooler.
OR – If you’ve chosen not to brine your turkey and you’re going to cook him straight from the package (which is totally fine, by the way), pull out all the parts inside the turkey (there’s usually a turkey neck and a bag of “parts”) and rinse him off really well inside and out; pat the turkey dry with paper towels.  Oh, and please, please pull out the the pop-up thermometer and throw that sucker away as fast as you can. (These things can often be faulty, causing many a bird to be cooked into oblivion!)

Now, using your fingertips, rub the turkey liberally with canola oil, taking care to get all the nooks and crannies around the wings and legs – everywhere you can reach!

Remove the wire that hold holds the turkey legs together at the back of the bird so that the cavity of the turkey is open and exposed.  Push onion, lemon, orange and garlic halves into turkey cavity.  Lastly, insert half of fresh herbs, letting them protrude a bit from turkey cavity. Using kitchen string, gently tie turkey legs together.  (Note – some turkeys are now coming with heavy plastic rings that fasten the legs together.  These usually seem to have enough give to allow you to return the legs back within it after stuffing the turkey’s cavity with the aromatics.  If not, use kitchen string, as needed.)

Set the prepared turkey onto a greased roasting rack, then into a greased roasting pan and place into the preheated oven. (Don’t worry if you don’t have a rack, it’s fine to just set the turkey right onto the bottom of the roasting pan.) Roast at 500˚F for 20-25 minutes, or until turkey is nicely browned all over, turning bird around in oven, half way through.  Keep a close eye on your turkey at this point – at this temperature, it can brown very quickly!

Once your turkey is nicely browned, remove him from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Cover the turkey and roasting pan with a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil.  Roast turkey for an additional 2 – 2½ hours or until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted deeply into the thigh area.

**Please note:  A good rule of thumb for roasting a turkey:  approx. 15 minutes of cooking time for every pound of turkey. Example:  a 12 lb. turkey would calculate out to 180 minutes, or 3 hours, give or take a little.  Always cook your turkey by temperature, not by time! This way it won’t be over-cooked and dry as a saw dust. 

When your turkey is done, remove from the oven, keeping him tightly covered with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving to allow the turkey to re-absorb it’s juices. Once turkey has had it’s rest, it’s time to carve that sucker and EAT!!

Now You’re Cookin’,
Chef Alli 

Let's Talk Turkey ImagesIf you like this recipe and these turkey tips, get all of this AND MORE in my “Let’s Talk Turkey” guide. It’s a FREE PDF download created to help you confidently get that bird on the table! Click here to learn more.


Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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