This is a no-tears, no-fuss Easy Garlic and Herb Oven Roasted Turkey recipe. If you’re looking for an easy turkey recipe to make this Thanksgiving, this oven roasted turkey is for you!
A few years ago, I made my very first turkey… Ever. Before that, I had never even watched someone cook a turkey. I was clueless.
So, I started hunting the Internet for easy turkey recipes, and it took me about 5 minutes to become totally overwhelmed and confused.
People have some STRONG opinions about turkey, and they’re all different. Depending on what you read, your techniques (Brining, basting, or tenting your turkey with foil) are either THE BEST THINGS to ever happen to poultry, or will completely RUIN your turkey and your life. Many agree that deep frying is the best way to cook a turkey, but you should NEVER do it because it’s too dangerous and could explode and burn your house down. What?! Even the cooking temperature is a hotly debated topic! Pun intended.
An Easy Turkey Recipe Anyone Can Make
Paralyzed by all of these different opinions, I decided it was time to rise above all that noise and just cook. Sometimes you just have to shut out the Internet and try something yourself.
So that’s what I did. And it actually worked. I made a turkey as simply as I could, using common ingredients. And it had a golden crispy skin and tender, flavorful meat. There was no brining, no basting, and (most importantly) no panic attacks.
*Disclaimer* Here’s the thing: I’m no turkey aficionado. I’m not a professional chef. I’m a normal person just like you, who makes a turkey dinner once a year for Thanksgiving. And that’s exactly why I posted this recipe. If I can make an oven roasted turkey that turns out this good, then you can too!
I want everyone to know that turkey doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need 20+ attempts to get it right, and it does not require 3 days of preparation. You can make your very first turkey today–Yes, this very day!–and it can taste good!
How to Prepare to Make an Easy Oven Roasted Turkey
Buy (and Defrost) Your Turkey
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 at least three days to let the turkey thaw out in your refrigerator and your life will be much more enjoyable.
Once your turkey is thawed, this whole process is easy-peasy. Start by removing any jewelry, rolling up your sleeves, and mentally preparing yourself to get all up in that bird’s business.
Prepare Roast Turkey Seasoning and Ingredients
I recommend prepping all your ingredients before handling the turkey. This helps avoid getting nasty meat hands all over your spice jars, cabinets/drawers, and refrigerator door handle.
- To prepare your ingredients, 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!).
- Then, put your salt and pepper in bowls.
- Finally, chop up an onion and some celery, and cut a head of garlic in half.
Prepare The Bird For Oven Roasted Turkey
- Take your (now defrosted) bird out of the bag and remove the giblets and any other nasties up in the cavity.
- Rinse the raw turkey under cold water then pat the whole bird dry with paper towels.
- Place the bird on your roasting rack.
- Then scoop the butter mixture into your hands, and rub it all over (and inside) the bird. (Over, under, in all the nook and crannies and in the cavity).
- Rub the salt and pepper all over and inside the turkey as well.
- Finally, stuff the cavity with the onions, garlic cloves, celery, and lemon, and tie up the turkey drumsticks.
How To Oven Roast a Turkey
Alright, your bird is ready to roast! Now, remove all but one of the racks in your oven and place the main rack at the bottom or second to bottom level. You want to make sure you have plenty of room for the turkey to slide in! Then, preheat the oven.
What oven temperature is best for roasting a turkey?
I have had the best results starting my oven roasted turkey at a higher temperature of 425 degrees for 30 minutes, then lowering it to 350 degrees for the remaining roast time.
Should I cook turkey covered or uncovered?
The answer is both! Leaving the turkey uncovered for part of the roasting time is important for getting a nice golden brown color and crispy exterior. I prefer to leave the bird uncovered at the beginning, tent with foil for the majority of the roasting time, then remove the foil again for the last 15-20 minutes.
If you have trouble tucking the wings (I always seem to), you can also make a little foil cap just for the tips to keep it from getting too brown.
How long does it take to roast a turkey?
A turkey can take anywhere from 3-5 hours to cook, depending on the size of your turkey. I generally make turkeys on the smaller side (in the 12-16 pound range) and they cook in 3-3 1/2 hours.
A 17-22 lb. turkey will take about 3 1/2-4 hours. Turkeys in the 22+ lb. range can take anywhere from 4-5 hours. Stuffed turkeys will take longer than unstuffed turkeys to cook through.
That said, I ALWAYS recommend depending on your meat thermometer (I use this one), not the time. Also, throw away that silly turkey popper. It’s not a reliable way to test for doneness.
One more piece of advice: Don’t forget to take the meat thermometer out before putting the turkey 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 How To Carve a 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.
What to Serve with Thanksgiving Turkey
First off, don’t even think about tossing all those juicy, herby, buttery drippings. They make the best gravy ever! I used this easy gravy recipe from In Sock Monkey Slippers.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes (made without a ricer!) are the quintessential side dish for turkey, but I also really love these Lemon Rosemary Melting Potatoes. Of course, it never hurts to add in some Easy Mashed Sweet Potatoes as well!
How long does leftover turkey last in the fridge?
Once you and your guests have eaten as much garlic and herb oven roasted turkey as humanly possible, package up the leftovers and store them in the fridge. It’s important to get leftover turkey in the fridge within about 2 hours to prevent bacteria growth.
Can leftover turkey be frozen?
Absolutely! Place it in a freezer safe container or ziplock bag and stash it for a busy weeknight. Turkey will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
Easy Garlic and Herb Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe Reviews
It has been several years now that I’ve been making this exact oven roast turkey, and it holds up as one of the best turkey recipes I’ve ever made. It’s also been made from hundreds of other readers! You can check out all turkey recipe reviews on Pinterest here or read the comment section below to hear about other people successfully making their very first (or 20th) turkey!
Here are a few of my favorites:
“This was by far the best turkey I have ever had!!! I cooked it in an oven bag rather than tenting it with foil. But oh man my whole family couldn’t believe how tender it turned out to be! This will be my go to recipe every year.”
“SOO good! My brother told me it was the best turkey he’d ever had, right in front of our mom 👀 it was also the first turkey I’d ever made! Super easy to make.”
“This is the BEST and juiciest turkey recipe I’ve ever tasted (and I even used a frozen bird this year!) I added the zest of an orange and stuffed the orange inside the bird as well, but no other changes. This was an easy to follow recipe, and the herbs add delicious flavor you don’t want to miss out on! My kids and husband couldn’t stop talking about the turkey all day!!”
If you try this turkey this year, please take a minute to let me know how it went by rating it or leaving a comment below!
That’s it folks! You’ve totally got this. I believe in you! Now, go forth and roast!
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!
- 12-15 lb. turkey
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons assorted fresh chopped 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 1/4 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 2 hours. Take the bird out after 2 hours and insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. If you're way off, set the timer for another 45 minutes and check again. If it's at 150 or higher, 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.
This recipe can be used to make larger turkeys, just make sure to increase the roasting time as well. A 20+ pound turkey will take 4-4 1/2 hours to roast.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 450