This is a no-tears, no-fuss Easy Roasted Turkey recipe. Read on to find out how to roast a turkey without losing your mind!
On Friday I made my very first turkey…ever. Before that, I had never even watched someone make a turkey. I was clue to the capital Less.
So, like any good food blogger, I started hunting the Internet for recipes, and it took me about 5 minutes to become totally overwhelmed and confused.
People have some STRONG opinions about their turkey, and they’re all different. Brining is either THE BEST THING to ever happen to the poultry family, or it’s a total disgrace to the feathered population. According to the internet, frying your turkey is the best, but you should never do it because it’s too dangerous. You MUST tent your turkey with foil, except that’s actually terrible and you’re a terrible person for even thinking of tenting! Roast it at a high temperature, but low and slow is actually the key. MAKE SURE you baste the bird every 30 minutes except if you do you’ll ruin everything. Whaaaaaat?!
Guys? Sometimes you just have to shut out the Internet and cook.
So that’s what I did. And it actually worked.
I made a turkey. And it had a golden crispy skin and tender, flavorful meat. There was no weeping, no gnashing of teeth, and no panic attacks.
But I felt kind of silly posting the recipe. I mean, I’ve only made one turkey in my ENTIRE life! What right do I have to post a recipe on the Internet and act like I actually know what I’m doing?
But then I decided that’s exactly why I needed to post this recipe. Not because I’m a turkey aficionado, but because I’m a normal person, just like you. And I want everyone else to know that turkey doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to take you 20 attempts. It doesn’t require 3 days of preparation. You can make your very first turkey today–Yes, this very day!–and it can taste good!
Many Internet voices
yelled at me told me I needed to buy a fresh, organic, local turkey. Normally I would be all for that. But here’s the thing. Some people can’t afford to buy a turkey like that, or they don’t even have access to one. And I believe everyone should be able to enjoy amazing turkey on Thanksgiving, whether it was butchered 2 days ago at a local farm or it was frozen and on sale at the local Save A Lot.
So I started with a frozen turkey I bought on sale. The Internet is in agreement on one count: thawing your turkey beforehand really pays off. So give yourself three days to let the turkey thaw out in your refrigerator. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it will make your life so much more enjoyable.
Once your turkey is thawed, this whole thing is easy peasy. You’ll want to start by removing your rings, rolling up your sleeves, and mentally preparing yourself to get all up in that bird’s business. I recommend prepping all your ingredients before handling the turkey. That way you don’t have to get nasty turkey meat hands all over the salt box and refrigerator door.
So, take some butter and smash it with lemon zest and fresh herbs (or use Gourmet Garden’s herb blends in a bottle–the Italian Herb blend is great for this!). Put your salt and pepper in bowls, chop up an onion and some celery, and peel a head of garlic.
Then, take your bird out of the bag and remove the giblets and any other nasties up in the cavity. Rinse the bird under cold water then pat the whole bird dry with paper towels. Place the bird on your roasting rack, then dunk your hands into the butter mixture and rub it all over the bird–over, under, in all the nook and crannies and in the cavity. Do the same with the salt and pepper, then stuff the cavity with the onions, garlic cloves, and celery.
That’s it. Your bird is ready to roast! I started mine at a higher temperature then lowered it to 350. That seemed to work well for me, so I’m sticking with it. The bird will take around 2 1/2 hours to bake, but depend on your meat thermometer, not the time. After about 2 hours, take the turkey out and stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. You want that area to register 165. If you’re far from there, put it back in for another 30 minutes. If it’s close, take it out and check every 10 minutes until it gets there. One piece of advice: Don’t forget to take the meat thermometer out before putting the bird back in the oven (unless it’s oven safe). This will most definitely result in a total plastic meltdown…not that I would know or anything. Ahem.
Once you take out your gorgeous, crispy, golden bird, tent it with foil and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before carving. I know it’s hard. I know you want to dive right in, but that 30 minutes allows the juices to soak back into the meat, keeping your turkey nice and juicy. If you want a tutorial for carving turkey, I recommend checking out this one from Huffington Post. Or just grabbing a big knife and hacking away, which, in the interest of full disclosure, is exactly what I did.
That’s it y’all! You’ve totally got this. Go forth and roast!
Pssst! One more thing! Don’t even think about tossing all those juicy, herby, buttery drippings. They make the best gravy ever! I used this easy recipe from In Sock Monkey Slippers.
Note: I did find this BuzzFeed article on 17 Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes Everyone Makes helpful. It’s worth a read. But do yourself a favor and ignore everything else. I promise you’ll do just fine!
Looking for more easy Thanksgiving recipes? I recommend pairing this turkey with Lemon Rosemary Melting Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms, Homemade Crock Pot Applesauce, Butterhorns, and my Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pinwheel!
Simple Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey
A simple garlic and herb butter keeps this turkey moist and extra flavorful.
- 12-14 lb. turkey
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons assorted fresh herbs (I used basil, rosemary, and parsley)
- Zest of 1 lemon, plus the lemon itself
- 1/2 a yellow onion
- 1 celery stalk, chopped in long strips
- One head of garlic
- About 1/4 cup Kosher salt
- About 2 Tablespoons black pepper
- Take the turkey out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Prep your ingredients. In a medium sized bowl, stir together softened butter, olive oil, herbs, and lemon zest. Place the salt and pepper in a bowl and lay out all the other ingredients so they're ready to go.
- You'll probably want to remove any rings and roll up your sleeves at this point because you're about to get up close and personal with this turkey. Ready?
- Rinse the turkey under cold water and make sure to remove any gravy packets and the giblets. Place the turkey on a roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure to dry the top, inside the cavity, and the underside of the turkey.
- Grab a hunk of the butter mixture and rub it all over the turkey, over the wings and breast, underneath, and in the cavity. Then take your fingers and work them under the skin (I told you we were going to get up close and personal, right?), and rub some butter under the skin of the breast as well.
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly all over the bird and inside the cavity. You may not need the full ¼ cup, but the bird should look like a light snow has fallen all over it.
- Halve the garlic crosswise so the centers are exposed then stuff it in the cavity along with the onion, celery, and halved lemon. Tie the legs together with twine, tuck the wings under, and place the bird in the oven.
- Bake the turkey at 450 for 30 minutes then turn the heat down to 350, tent with foil, and continue to cook for 1½-2 hours. Take the bird out after 1½ hours and insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. (It's easiest to place your thermometer straight down right where the thigh and breast connect) You want the thigh to register 165 degrees before removing it. If it's at 150, you know you're getting close--check every 10-15 minutes from there. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes of baking, unless it's getting too browned.
- Once the thigh registers 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven, and allow to stand for 30 minutes before carving.
My absolute favorite thermometer to use is the Thermapen. It's easy to use and incredibly reliable.