The Best Roast Turkey

December 23, 2014 | western

The Best Roast Turkey – perfectly cooked and moist

Servings: 10 to 12 servings


  • 14-16 pound turkey, fresh or thawed
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if turkey has been brined)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter


Remove turkey from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place oven rack in lowest position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Coat roasting pan and rack with cooking spray and set aside.

Remove neck and giblets from turkey main and neck cavities. (These can be discarded or used to make broth for gravy or soup.)

If turkey has a metal or plastic clamp holding the legs together, remove and discard it.

Add salt and pepper to the turkey cavity and rub with hand to distribute inside cavity. Stuff the cavity with lemon, onion (reserving one onion quarter), and herbs.

Overlap skin at cavity opening to cover as much of gap as possible; use toothpicks or small turkey skewers, if needed, to hold skin in place. Tie legs together with twine.

Insert remaining onion quarter under skin covering neck cavity. Tuck wing tips under turkey body, using them to hold skin over neck cavity in place.

Pat turkey dry with a paper towel and brush breast side all over with olive oil. Flip turkey over, breast side down, onto rack in roasting pan. Brush with olive oil so entire turkey is coated.

Place in 400 degree oven uncovered. After 1 hour, lower heat to 350 degrees and cook for an additional hour for turkeys 14 pounds or larger (45 minutes for smaller turkeys).

Remove from oven and flip turkey over so it is breast side up. Insert a remote probe thermometer into thickest part of thigh. Return turkey to oven and set thermometer monitor alarm to sound at 165 degrees. When thigh temperature reaches 165 to 170 degrees, remove from oven. Use an instant read thermometer to check temperature of other thigh. Also check thickest part of breast–it should be 160 degrees. If not, return to oven.

Cooking times can vary. 13 minutes cooking time per pound is a good estimate. It should take a 14-16 pound turkey a total of 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours to cook. An 18 pound turkey takes closer to 4 hours. These times are ballpark and can vary; that's why using a thermometer is important for determining exactly when the turkey is done.

When fully cooked, remove turkey from oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest undisturbed for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes. Carve and serve.

Click here for step by step instructions.

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