When I was a kid, I remember being fascinated with my mom’s turkey recipe. It always came out perfectly, never dry or anything like that. My first attempt at making turkey was a total fail, but I learned what to do to make it savory, moist, and absolutely delightful, and now you can too. Here is the best Thanksgiving turkey recipe that we share every year!
Best Turkey Recipe
Turkey might seem like a big challenge since it’s usually the centerpiece to a special meal, particularly during the holidays. But this is the best turkey recipe because it uses simple ingredient that bring about beautiful results in presentation and flavor.
Baked Turkey Meal Ingredients
- Turkey – well, obviously!
- Yellow onions – these make for pungent aromatics
- Baby red potatoes – creates a base under the turkey while keeping the bottom of the pan for perfect circulation
- Carrots – gives your baked turkey some color when serving, plus they taste so good with the herb butter and turkey juices
- Fresh herbs – rosemary, sage, and thyme are beautiful with turkey
- Lemon – creates a dazzling flavor
- Garlic – for the herb butter
- Unsalted butter – choose unsalted as you’ll be salting the turkey
Easy Turkey Recipe
While the baking time takes several hours, this easy turkey recipe is prepped in just 30 minutes. As it bakes, you can focus on the rest of your meal. Ideally, you’ll have prepped all that before too and you can finally put your feet up (or sneak a glass of wine!).
Somethings up…the farmer just unfriended me on Facebook.
Tom the Turkey
How to Make Baked Turkey
If you want things to go smoothly, you should remember to let your turkey sit on the counter for an hour to come to room temperature. You’ll prep the roasting dish with veggies and get the herb butter ready. After that, you’ll want to remove the neck and giblets from the inside and pat the turkey dry while seasoning it inside and out with salt and pepper.
Fill the cavity with aromatics, put the herb butter under the skin, and bake it. You’ll soon be reveling in the smell of savory baked turkey.
Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Turkey Every Time
- Plenty of thawing time – Allow enough time for your turkey to thaw in the fridge. Do not even try to cook it if it’s still frozen.
- Stuff your turkey with aromatics – This recipe calls for lemon, fresh herbs, and onion to go into the cavity. It makes the meat more moist and imparts the perfect flavor.
- Don’t forget to remove the giblets – My mom likes to tell me about the first turkey she ever made. She didn’t know that bag was in there and needless to say, her kitchen filled up with stinky smoke and they wound up going out to eat.
How to Cook Turkey
Once you do all the prep work, cooking a turkey is easy. And the prep is easy too. Make it easy on yourself by getting everything ready beforehand so all you have to do is put it together and bake the bird.
What do I do to the turkey before cooking it?
You’ll need to make sure it is thawed completely. Then you will have to remove the neck and giblets which come in a bag that can be found inside the turkey. From there, you’ll pat it dry and season it, stuffing it with aromatic herbs and spreading butter under the skin to keep it moist.
Do I butter or oil my turkey?
Butter is best for adding a beautiful, rich flavor while keeping the turkey meat moist. Plus, it helps the skin get nice and golden brown. The skin over the turkey breast is very thin and will be be the first to brown.
How do I Keep my Turkey Moist
My secret is using the herb butter under the skin. Not only does it add amazing flavor, but it also serves to keep the meat tender and moist.
Can I season my turkey the night before?
Definitely! You can even do it up to 2 days before you plan to cook it!
How Long to Cook a Turkey
This recipe calls for using a 15 to 20lb turkey. If you’re choosing something smaller (or even larger!) you will have to adjust slightly. You’ll roast at 325F for 15 minutes per pound of the bird you choose. That’s the standard rule of thumb. Your thermometer should clock an internal temperature of 165F when it’s finished.
Do you cook a turkey at 325F or 350F?
This recipe goes with 325F for cooking turkey, the perfect temperature to cook it effectively without overdoing it. You can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey.
Do you put water in the bottom of the turkey pan?
There’s no need to do that. With the turkey drippings and juices coming out all over the veggies at the bottom, there will be plenty of delightful turkey broth soon enough as the base for your turkey gravy.
Do you cook a turkey covered or uncovered?
Some people cover their turkeys, but that won’t let the skin brown up. You need to get that golden skin first. Then you can cover it up as you wish.
How often do I baste a turkey?
Basting a turkey is not required, but if you choose to do so, go with 30-minute intervals.
What to Serve with Baked Turkey (Side Dishes)
With this baked turkey recipe, you will have red potatoes, onions, and carrots at the bottom of your roasting pan. But you’ll likely want some more things. Dinner rolls, mashed potatoes with gravy, sauteed seasonal green veggies (like spinach or brussels sprouts), baked sweet potatoes, and a fresh salad are all fine ideas.
How to Store Leftover Turkey
Once the big meal is complete, wrap leftover turkey in aluminum foil or stow in an airtight container. You can keep it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Can You Freeze Turkey?
Turkey is a wonderful thing to have in the freezer. You can use it to make other meals, making meal prep a breeze. You’ll need to take time to pull all the meat off the bones and separate it. Then it can be kept in your freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat Frozen Turkey
I put it in the fridge overnight and then bake it at 300F with a little broth or gravy to keep it from drying out. This should take about 30 minutes.
Easy Traditional Turkey Recipe
- Turkey roasting pan
- Turkey baster
- 1 15-20 lb turkey
- 6 yellow onions (3 peeled and quartered, 3 halved)
- 2 lemons quartered
- 1 oz fresh rosemary
- 1 oz fresh sage
- 1 oz fresh thyme
- 5-6 carrots peeled, chopped
- 10-12 baby red potatoes halved
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups butter unsalted
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 black pepper
- 10-12 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary, sage, thyme
- Remove your thawed turkey from the fridge and allow to sit for 1 hour and reach room temperature. Preheat your oven to 325F.
- In a large roasting pan, place a layer of carrots, baby red potatoes, and onions on the bottom. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. In the meantime, make your herb butter by combining butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and freshly chopped herbs.
- Once you’ve made the herb butter, remove the turkey from the packaging and take out the neck and giblets. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a wire rack in the roasting dish and then season the entire turkey including the thighs and cavity with salt and pepper.
- Place the lemon, onion and herbs inside the cavity of the turkey. Using your fingers, loosen the skin on the breasts of the turkey until you are able to place several tablespoons of the herb butter underneath. Baste the entire turkey with the remaining herb butter mixture, then roast at 325F at about 15 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Allow the turkey to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
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