This Turkey Recipe has everything you need to know about roasting a juicy Thanksgiving Turkey! No reason to be intimidated; let me show you how easy it can be! This Turkey Recipe is totally doable, even if it’s your first time; I got you! This recipe takes a no-fuss, no-brine, no-truss approach that will impress your guests AND it makes the best Gravy!
The star of the thanksgiving table is the bird, gobble gobble!! Really the one big job of thanksgiving is the turkey. Can not let it dry out, can’t burn it. We got to keep it juicy and moist! Here’s where I come in to help! I spent most of October testing and researching different turkey cooking methods. Let me tell you; there are so many it would make your brain go bonkers! This turkey recipe is hands down the easiest method for a delicious turkey!
Whats Thanksgiving Turkey without the gravy? This turkey recipe makes the best gravy around! Next to stuffing gravy is my jam!!
I took a page from the one and only Gordon Ramsey Christmas Turkey. I was always taught that you must brine your bird, but this is not true! You can still cook an excellent flavor-packed juicy bird without a brine. This recipe is truly no fuss you can even prep the bird it 3 days in advance, leaving it in the fridge and popping it in the oven morning of!
Yes, some people get really fancy when making a turkey, but I assure you don’t need anything fancy to make a super flavorful thanksgiving turkey!
Keep it Simple (Ingredients)
The Simplest ingredients will have the best outcome.
- Whole Turkey: Any fresh or frozen turkey from the market will work.
- Poultry Herbs: Fresh Thyme, Sage, and Rosemary combine the classic thanksgiving flavors we all love.
- Butter: turkey is a lean bird when covered in a generous amount of butter, it helps lock in moisture and flavor. Plus, you won’t have to brine your bird!
- Garlic & Onion: these two are two peas in a pod. The onion will go inside the bird giving a wonderful sweet flavor, and the garlic will be mixed in the butter and rubbed all over the turkey. Together they give such a wonderful flavor.
- Lemon & Orange: the citrus helps keep the bird stay moist and offers a wonderful flavor.
- Salt & Pepper: what’s a recipe without the perfect about of salt and pepper?
- Celery & Carrots: these veggies help add flavor, and as vegetables stem inside the turkey, they help cook it from the inside. The veggies will also lay underneath your turkey and give a delicious flavor to the drippings for gravy.
Tools To Make A Turkey
- roasting pan ( accommodate the bird but is not oversized)
- oven-safe thermometer (to make sure that the bird is cooked perfectly)
- Turkey Baster (keeping things juicy)
Fresh or Frozen
For this turkey recipe, honestly, I have done both, and neither is better than the other. If you grab a frozen turkey, PLEASE ALLOW ADEQUATE TIME FOR IT TO PROPERLY THAW. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF BUYING A FROZEN BIRD THE DAY BEFORE! I bought mine 7 days before. It takes 24 hours to thaw 5 pounds of turkey.
Two days before roasting the turkey, I prepare it with the herbs, veggies, and butter rub so it’s ready to pop in the oven morning of. This helps keep the kitchen cleaner and less cluttered for the big of cooking too! I like to do as much as possible to make the day as stress-free as possible.
What Size Turkey To Buy
This will depend on how many guests you feed. A butcher once told me 1 pound per person, but we all love turkey leftovers, so I say go a half pound over that recommendation. If you’re just feeding 2-3 people, I recommend you go with Slow Cooker Turkey Breast + Gravy. It is the perfect recipe for a small gathering!!
- For 10 people, I recommend a 14-16 pound turkey
- For 12 – 16 people, I recommend a 16-22 pound turkey.
- For 16+ people, I recommend getting 2 – 14 pound turkeys. It is easier to cook two smaller size turkeys than 1 giant one.
If your party is around 5 people, I recommend you still go with a 10 to 12-pound turkey. If you’re having a big party and getting a large bird, please allow accurate time to cook the bird!!
Do Not Stuff Turkey
Stuffing the turkey will slow down the cooking, could cause contamination, and block the aromatics. Cooking your stuffing in a casserole dish is a much better option. My bread stuffing happens to be my favorite thanksgiving side!
How To Prepare Your Turkey
Once the turkey is fully thawed, remove the turkey from the packaging and remove the neck and giblets. The bag can be found in the large cavity of the turkey and sometimes in the small. Check both to make sure turkey cavities are empty. You can discard it or use it for gravy.
Let the turkey sit till it becomes room temperature, about 1 hour.
Pat the turkey dry, and season the cavity with salt and pepper. Make sure the turkey is dry. This will give the turkey that delicious crispy brown skin. Season with enough salt and pepper don’t be shy; we’re creating a delicious, flavorful bird.
Fill the cavity with the quartered onion, lemon, celery, rosemary, thyme, and sage.
Make your herb butter. Start with room-temperature butter; you won’t be able to spread cold butter on the turkey. In a bowl, mix together the butter, thyme, rosemary, salt, garlic, and citrus zest. Sage is a very potent herb, so we leave it out of the mix.
Spread the butter. With your hands, gently get under the skin so the butter can be spread underneath the skin and on top. Spread a little less than half underneath the skin. Add olive oil to butter and microwave for 30 seconds. Spread the butter mixture all over the bird.
Prepare foil by folding it into a large triangle to protect the breast from drying out when cooking. Oil one side to prevent turkey skin from sticking. Set foil aside.
Cook the turkey. Lay chopped onion, celery, and carrots in the roasting pan. Place on the roasting rack if you have one, and place the turkey on top of it. Let’s cook the turkey.
Cooking The Turkey
Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F. A rule of thumb is 13 – 15 minutes per pound of turkey. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven and base the bird with the juices at the bottom of the pan. Place the foil triangle over the breast oil side down. Lower oven to 350 degrees F and roast for about 2 & 1/2 hours or more (calculating 13 minutes per pound of turkey). Cook turkey till the meatiest part of the thigh reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. My 14-pound turkey took a total of 2 & 1/2 hours; you will need to calculate the cooking time per pound of bird and temperature is always your best guage.
As oven temperatures and turkey sizes vary, it is important to check your turkey about 30 minutes before the calculated roasting time. If the temperature of 160 degrees F is not reached, then check every 15 minutes until the temperature is reached. The turkey will continue to cook once it’s removed and will rise to 165 degrees F while its rested.
Leave the turkey to rest for 40 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute, leaving it so juicy. Make the gravy in the meantime.
Carve the turkey and enjoy.
Best sides yo your turkey:
- 13 lb turkey, but anything 11 - 15 lbs will work, bake time will vary
- salt & pepper inside of the turkey
- 1 onion, halved ( no peeling)
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 2 celery ribs
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 3 sage sprigs
Herbed Garlic Butter
- 8 ounces of unsalted butter
- 6 - 7 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 heaping tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 lemon, juice of
- 1/2 tsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, quartered
- 3 celery ribs
- 1 carrot, halved
- 2 cups of turkey drippings
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tbsp chicken bullion ( I use Better Than Bullion Roasted Chicken Base)
- 1/2 cup flour
- If the turkey is frozen, allow for it to fully thaw. Give yourself 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
- Remove thawed turkey from the fridge 1 hour prior to roasting, you want it to be room temperature.
- Prepare your oven rack, so the turkey sits in the middle of the oven when roasting. Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F.
- Make the herb butter by combining room temperature butter, garlic, lemon juice, orange zest, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary.
- Remove the turkey from the packaging. Place on a large dish and remove the neck giblets from the turkey cavity (Reserve them for gravy, if you want, or discard them). Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
- Season the cavity of the turkey with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
- With your hands, gently loosen the skin of the breast from both sides so you will be able to stuff the flavored butter underneath it. Make sure to keep the skin intact. Repeat with the skin on the legs from the lower side of the breast and out towards the legs.
- Stuff half the butter mixture into the openings under the skin. Gently massage the butter under the breasts so the meat is covered evenly.
- Stuff the bird with the halved onion, quarter lemon, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, and celery.
- Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the butter mixture and microwave for 30 seconds.
- Tuck the wings of the turkey if you remember. It's not a make-it-or-break-it step.
- Using a smooth spoon or basting brush, rub the. remaining butter mixture all over the outside of the turkey.
- Fold a square sheet of foil into a triangle similar to the turkey breast, oil one side, and set aside.
- Place veggies at the bottom of the roasting tray, and add to the rack if you have one. Place bird breast side up and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast the turkey in the hot oven for 25-30 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven, and baste the bird with the pan juices. Tent the breast with foil, oil side down to keep it moist. Lower the setting to 350 degrees F and cook for about 2 - 2 1⁄2 hours (calculating 13-15 minutes per pound), basting occasionally.
- Once the turkey reaches 160 degrees F (inserted in the middle thigh or breast), remove the turkey from the oven, the temperature will continue to rise while the turkey is resting.
- Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent the turkey loosely with foil. Let the turkey rest for 40 minutes for it to tenderize. In the meantime, make the gravy.
- Make the Gravy in a saucepan by combining chicken broth, turkey drippings, flour, and bullion. Whisk it together on medium-low heat till combined. Transfer to a gravy boat. It will thicken a little as it cools. It is so delicious.
- The turkey can be stuffed with veggies and herbs and buttered up to 3 days before. Store it in the fridge in a foil tent. Before roasting, take it out and let it sit for an hour to become room temperature before cooking.
- As oven temperatures and turkey sizes vary, it is important to check your turkey about 30 minutes before the calculated roasting time. If the temperature of 160 degrees F is not reached, then check every 15 minutes until the temperature is reached. The turkey will continue to cook once it's removed and will rise to 165 degrees F after its rested.
- Convection Oven: You can use the same method to cook the turkey in a convection oven; check the temperature sooner these ovens cook faster than gas ovens.
For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How to Make EASY No-Brine Thanksgiving Turkey Story.