The only Thanksgiving turkey recipe you’ll ever need! This turkey comes out perfectly juicy and tender every time, even a first time cook can present a beautiful bird on Thanksgiving day.
Thanksgiving is all about the food, and nothing is more important than the turkey. Serve this classic turkey with some delectable sides such as sweet potato casserole and green bean bundles, then watch the rave reviews pour in.
A Thanksgiving turkey is an integral part of the holiday meal, but the idea of turning out a perfect, golden brown bird can be daunting. This turkey recipe comes out delicious every time; the meat is infused with flavor and never dry. Add some fresh herbs and fruit as a garnish, and your turkey will look like it came off the cover of a magazine.
How to prep a turkey
To prepare a turkey for the oven, you’ll need to do the following steps:
- Remove the neck from the turkey cavity.
- Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
- Fold the ends of the turkey wings under your bird.
- Remove the giblet bag which is usually found inside the turkey cavity near the neck hole.
How do you make Thanksgiving turkey?
To make a really juicy and tender bird the secret is to brine the turkey. Make a flavorful brine with this recipe. After the turkey absorbs flavor and moisture in the brine, remove it from the brine and pat it dry. Let it rest for a few minutes on the counter. Prepare the turkey for roasting by tying the drumsticks together and tucking the wings. The next step is to coat the turkey in a rub made of butter, garlic, sage, and other herbs and seasonings.
When the turkey is ready to roast, put it in a roasting pan and roast it for a half an hour at high heat. Let the turkey finish roasting at a lower heat while basting it every half hour. When the turkey is done and golden brown, let it rest for a few minutes, serve and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey
- While the turkey is roasting, if it starts to get dark on top but the meat is not done yet, simply place a little foil on top while it finishes cooking.
- When figuring out what size turkey you need, make sure you have a pound of turkey per person.
- For extra flavor, you can put some large chopped pieces of onions and celery in the turkey’s cavity. When the turkey is cooked, you will discard the veggies.
- Place your meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh or the base of the turkey breast near where the turkey breast meets the thigh.
- When basting your turkey, if there are any parts of the turkey that are not browning as quickly, make sure to baste those areas with the melted butter and drippings in the pan.
Do you need to brine a turkey?
You can make a good turkey without brining it. However, I highly recommenced brining the turkey as it helps keep the meat moist and adds a lot of herb and savory flavors to the meat. The difference between a brined turkey and a regular turkey is night and day, so if you have the time, brine that bird.
How long do you cook a turkey?
Generally speaking, a turkey needs to cook for 15 minutes per pound of bird. This assumes that you’re starting with a fresh or fully thawed turkey. The only way to know for sure that your turkey is cooked through is to use a thermometer to check the temperature of the turkey.
How do you know when a turkey is done?
You want to cook a turkey until the bird is golden brown and the internal temperature of the meat has reached 165 degrees F. Make sure to insert the thermometer in the base of the breast meat or the thickest part of the thigh to ensure that the turkey reaches the correct temperature. Your thermometer should not be touching any turkey bones.
The perfect turkey for Thanksgiving is one that is easy and cooks up delicious every time. Whether you are roasting a turkey for the first time or you are just looking for some new ideas, this recipe will help you cook that perfect Thanksgiving turkey that will impress your friends and family.
More Thanksgiving recipes you’ll love
- 1 recipe turkey brine
- 15 lb turkey
- 10 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Fresh herbs and fruit for garnish optional
- Prepare the brine according to recipe directions. Brine the turkey for 18-24 hours before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Remove the turkey from the brine; rinse and pat dry. Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Tuck the turkey wings under the body. Tie the turkey legs together with kitchen twine.
- Place the butter, garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley and salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Rub the herb butter all over the outside of the turkey and under the skin of the breast.
- Place the turkey in a roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue roasting, basting the turkey every 30 minutes with pan drippings, until the turkey is done. This will take approximately 3 1/2 hours and you'll know that the turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey thigh registers 165 degrees F.
- If the turkey seems like it's getting overly browned during the cooking process, cover it with foil.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and tent loosely with foil. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Slice, then serve.
- You can make this recipe with a turkey larger than 15 lbs, simply add 15 minutes more to the cooking time per pound.
- It's best to cook your turkey on a rack or on a bed of vegetables to help keep it from sitting in all the juices in the bottom of the pan.