How to Cook a Turkey
- Preheat your oven to 425°F with the rack in the lower third of the oven. Rinse and pat turkey dry with paper towels.
- Remove neck and giblets, gravy packet, or any packages inside the cavities of the bird. Check the large cavity as well as the neck cavity.
- For the turkey seasoning, you will need to make our Garlic Butter Sauce. It’s just 3 ingredients and takes only a few minutes to mix together!
- Carefully lift up the skin, separating it from the breast as much as you can. The back of a spoon works well for this. Season underneath with garlic butter.Rub the outer skin all over with more garlic butter.
- Stuff the cavity with the orange, lemon, onion, and herbs.
- Tie the legs with cooking twine and transfer to a rack set inside a roasting pan. Tuck the wings underneath so they don’t burn – this is important! Pour 2 cups of chicken broth into the roasting pan and transfer to the oven.
- Roast the turkey for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
- After the first hour of roasting the turkey, baste it every 30 minutes. Tent the turkey with foil if the skin becomes deep golden brown before the turkey is cooked through.
- Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh joint registers 160°F.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a carving board. The turkey will continue cooking and should reach 165°F.
- Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
Turkey Temperature Chart
I always recommend using a meat thermometer to make sure you cook your turkey to the right temperature. Always insert it in both the breast and the thigh area. It should be inserted close to, but not touching, the thigh bone.
The perfect temperature will read 180° F on the thigh and 170° F on the breast.
Reading: Best roast turkey recipe ever
Turkey Recipes FAQs
How to Make Turkey Gravy
- To make gravy from drippings, place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat (or transfer juices to the saucepan if you prefer).
- Add 2 cups of the remaining broth to the pan drippings and bring to a simmer. Skim off all but 1-2 tablespoons of the fat, depending on the size of your bird.
- Combine milk and flour in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
- Whisk the milk mixture into the gravy and simmer, stirring continuously until the gravy thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
At this point, you can carve the bird and serve it with the gravy. Or, make it the star of the show by placing it in the middle of your table on a platter.
Garnish the platter with citrus fruits, sliced, whole, and halved, and sprigs of fresh herbs.
How to Carve a Turkey
- Place on a cutting board. Remove the twine around the legs using your knife.
- Remove the legs by cutting through the area that connects the breast and the drumstick. Use your knife to slice down until you reach the joint. Then, using a paper towel, grab the leg and push down. This will separate the leg and thigh from the bird. Use your knife to slice through the joint.
- Remove the drumstick by separating the drumstick and the thigh by cutting through the joint area connecting them. Place the drumstick on a platter. Set aside the thigh meat to slice later.
- Find the wishbone at the front center of the breast. Use your fingers to pull it out. Removing the wishbone makes it easier to carve the breast meat, so don’t skip this step.
- Find the breastbone and place your knife on one side of it, and slice down close to the bone. As you are slicing, use your other hand to pull the meat from the breastbone. This will help you take the breast in one piece. Set aside the whole breast to slice later.
- Using your knife, slice through the joint to remove a wing. Place the wings on the platter.
- Hold the thigh bone with tongs or a paper towel, and remove the meat from the bone with your knife. Place the meat on the platter.
- Use tongs to hold the breast in place, then place the meat on the cutting board so you can cut it at a shorter length. Slice the breast against the grain. Trust us, this will make a huge difference. Make sure to keep the skin attached. Place the slices on a platter.
How to Thaw a Turkey
For three different methods and tips on thawing the turkey in time for Thanksgiving, take a look at my guide on How to Thaw Turkey!
For a turkey less than 6 pounds, thaw for 1 day.
Note: it is extremely important to thaw your turkey safely. Never, ever thaw your turkey on the counter.
Herb Butter Turkey Recipe
Read more: Sirloin beef tip roast recipe
The secret to making this the best recipe ever is our garlic compound butter. It’s so easy to make – just mix herbs, garlic, and butter following our instructions – but the flavor is amazing.
You will want to put this garlic herb butter recipe on everything. I know I do!
What to Do with Leftover Turkey
- Turkey Tetrazzini
- Turkey Sliders
- Zuppa Toscana
- Empanada Recipe using Thanksgiving leftovers!
- Turkey Carcass Soup, is the best turkey noodle soup!
Turkey Side Dishes
- Creamed Corn Casserole
- Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- Southern Sweet Potato Casserole
- Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes or try Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes. They are super easy and quick!
Give our Popular Thanksgiving Dishes a try for even more ideas!
Did you try this recipe? Leave a comment and a rating below to let us know what you think! We love to hear from you!
Read more: Smoked Beef Tenderloin (Reverse Seared)
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