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Simple roast turkey recipe

Simple roast turkey recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Poultry
  • Turkey
  • Roast turkey

A simple, back to basics roast turkey recipe that really lets the turkey shine.

2019 people made this

IngredientsServes: 16

  • 1 whole turkey
  • 75g butter
  • 1L boiling water
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:5hr ›Ready in:5hr30min

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4. Remove the giblets from the turkey, if included, or you can add these to roasting tin if they are anyone's favourites. You can also use them in a turkey gravy.
  2. Place turkey in a roasting tin. Separate the skin over the breast to make little pockets. Put 1/2 of the butter on both sides between the skin and breast meat. This makes for very juicy breast meat.
  3. Combine the water with the stock cube, and sprinkle in the parsley flakes and minced onion. Pour over the top of the turkey. Sprinkle poultry seasoning over the turkey.
  4. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in preheated oven for 4 to 5 hours, until the temperature of the thigh meat reaches 74 degrees C. For the last 45 minutes or so, remove the foil so the turkey will brown nicely.

Cooking turkey tips

For easy tips and step-by-step instructions, see our Cooking turkey article, and don't forget our turkey gravy recipes.

Turkey tips

For fail-safe tips and turkey cooking times see our guide to cooking turkey. Also don't forget our turkey gravy recipes.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(2139)

Reviews in English (1546)

Hi, used this to cook my turkey, missed out the onion and used plain sausage meat for stuffing, a chicken stock cube an orange and lemon to fill the cavities. basted at last hour and left open to crisp for last half, came out perfect. Thanks so much-25 Dec 2013


This was the best turkey I have ever made or eaten. I could not believe how moist and tender the breast was! My thanksgiving was made perfect with this delicious bird. Everyone asked how I did it, even my elderly aunt, who is the best cook ever, raved about it. I used about a stick and a half of butter under the skin. I buttered that bird good. I also rubbed the outside of the bird with butter before pouring the boullion mixture and before the seasoned salt. It was such a beautiful golden brown. I was so busy that day that I only got it basted a couple of times during cooking, but it couldn't have been any better or jucier. This was a 21 pound bird, and I cooked it for 1 hour at 375 degrees then reduced to 350 degrees for 5 more hours to reach 180 degrees. Perfect!!! Thanks a million Robin!!-30 Nov 2001


This is a wonderful recipe for beginners as well as the experienced cook. I put this bird in the oven, went to the movies, came back to a moist succulent turkey. It's that easy. I put butter under the skin of the legs too (in total I use 1 cube for the entire bird). I also add black pepper to the seasoning. Every bite is moist!! You can't go wrong!! Lots of wonderful pan juiced to make gravy with. Superfine flour called "Wondera" by Gold Medal is a must for new cooks. Your gravy will be lump free. Taste your gravy after you have thickened it to see if you need to add anymore salt and pepper. If too salty, just dilute with water and a little more flour...until it tastes good. Easy gravy!-23 Jan 2003

Recipe Summary

  • 1 10-12 pound turkey, brined for 24 to 36 hours *
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme, crushed
  • Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
  • Freshly squeezed juice of one orange
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves, cut in large pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Rinse the brined turkey under cold water pat it dry, inside and out, with paper towels. In bowl, mix softened butter, 1/4 tsp. salt, the pepper, and thyme. Stir in citrus juices (not all juices will be incorporated). Rub turkey with seasoned butter, inside and out. Fill cavity with onion, celery, bay leaves, and garlic. Skewer turkey neck skin to back. Tuck drumstick ends under band of skin across tail, if available. If there is no band of skin, tie drumsticks securely to tail. Twist wing tips under back. Place turkey, breast side up, on rack in roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into center of an inside thigh muscle, taking care not to touch bone. Pour chicken broth in roasting pan.

Roast turkey 45 minutes undisturbed. Spoon pan juices over turkey. Roast 1 hour more spooning juices over turkey every 20 minutes. Cut string spoon juices over turkey. Roast 1 to 1-1/2 hours more, spooning over juices every 20 minutes or until thickest part of thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165 F and thigh juices run clear. Remove from oven transfer turkey to serving platter. Tent loosely with aluminum foil, shiny side down. Let rest 20 to 30 minutes. Remove vegetables from inside cavity discard.

While turkey rests, pour drippings from roasting pan into heatproof glass measuring cup or fat separator skim fat. Reserve separated fat for Thanksgiving Gravy. Return drippings to pan heat through, scraping up browned bits. Measure for use in Thanksgiving Gravy. Makes 8 servings, (plus leftovers).

How Do You Cook A Whole Turkey?

Roasting a turkey is one of those things that people get a little nervous about making. I guess it seems a little nerve wracking, that big 20 pound turkey on your counter. Never fear, I&rsquom here to tell you guys, it&rsquos really so very easy.

After your turkey is thawed, all you need to do is rinse the turkey inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels. How you season your turkey is up to you, there are many recipe to choose from! We kept our Simple Roast Turkey Recipe just that &ndash simple.

Start by melting butter and brushing that all over the turkey, and then seasoning it with a lot of kosher salt and pepper. You can season your turkey inside and out, I don&rsquot find that it makes a big difference in flavor so we stick to the outside.

Tuck the turkey wings underneath the breast and tie the legs together like you see here. Tying the turkey legs together helps them cook more evenly, but some recent recipes are saying that it&rsquos mostly for looks, not the cooking process.

Get your bird in the oven at 350 degrees. Some recipes say to cook a turkey at 325 degrees, a little lower and slower, which is fine too if you have the time, the general rule is 20 minutes per pound.

But 350 will cook a 14 pound turkey in about 3 hours, just check with a meat thermometer to make sure the thigh areas registers 165 degrees.

Simple roast turkey recipe - Recipes

This picture-perfect turkey will have skin that is crisp and golden-hued, the meat will be moist (yes, even the breast meat!) and the flavor will be divine because you took these simple steps to prepare and roast the turkey.

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion (about 12 ounces), coarsely chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths

2 large stalks celery, cut into 1-inch lengths

4 large, fresh sage leaves

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to cook it. Remove the turkey from its wrapping. Remove the neck and bag of giblets from the main and neck cavity of the bird. Set aside. Trim off the tail and set aside. Pull off any pockets of fat attached to the skin near the opening of the chest cavity and discard. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Have ready a large roasting pan with a nonstick roasting rack, preferably V-shaped, set in the pan.

Thirty minutes before you plan to roast the turkey, position an oven rack on the lowest level in the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

While the oven is heating, sprinkle the inside of the chest and neck cavities with a little salt and pepper. Put half of the onion, carrots and celery inside the chest cavity. Scatter the rest evenly on the bottom of the roasting pan. Stuff the sage and two of the thyme sprigs inside the cavity. Put the third sprig of thyme in the roasting pan. Add the water to the pan.

Tuck the turkey wing tips back and under the wings so they lay close to the chest. Cut a 12-inch piece of kitchen twine and bring the legs together, wrapping the twine around the ends (knobs) of the legs to secure them. Tie a knot and trim any extra length of string. Use a small metal skewer or toothpick to secure the neck skin so it doesn't flop open. Use a pastry brush to brush the turkey with half of the butter. Sprinkle the turkey on all sides with a little salt and pepper.

Place the turkey, breast side up, on the rack. Roast for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Baste the turkey with the pan juices, and roast an additional 30 minutes. Baste with pan juices. Continue to roast, basting with pan juices after 45 minutes. After another 45 minutes, baste with the remaining butter. Tent the turkey loosely with foil if the breast is browning too much. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees.

When the turkey is done, transfer it to a carving board or serving platter and cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. Allow the turkey to rest for 15 to 30 minutes before carving to let the juices set. Warm the platter you plan to serve the turkey on.

Carve the turkey and serve immediately. Tent the rest of the turkey with foil to keep warm. Remove the rest of the turkey from the carcass later for some fine leftovers.

Editor's note: In April 2006, the USDA changed its recommendations to say that all poultry &mdash both white and dark meat &mdash is safe to eat at a final temperature (after resting) of 165 degrees. However, if you prefer turkey more well-done, remove it from the heat as directed above when the thigh reaches 170 degrees, so that after resting it will be 180 degrees.

A Few Final Thoughts on Turkey

– Depending on where you buy your turkey, you might be presented with several options like Organic, All-Natural, Kosher or Self-Basting. I like Kosher turkeys best but they can be expensive and hard to find. I’ve also had good results with Whole Foods’ turkeys. (If you want to read more about the different types of turkeys, click here.)

– Most turkey recipes will advise you to save the turkey giblets to make turkey stock and gravy. It’s a good idea but, to be honest, I never bother – there’s too much other cooking to do on Thanksgiving. The drippings from the roasted turkey will give you plenty of flavor for your gravy, and you can use store bought chicken broth for the rest. Keep it simple!

– No matter how you cook your turkey, leave it un-trussed (don’t tie the legs together) – it’s easier and the turkey will cook more evenly. Many turkeys come with a plastic binder that holds the legs together just cut it off. Or sometimes the skin is pulled around the legs to hold them together you can cut that off as well.

– Don’t go crazy trying to flavor your turkey with herbs and spices. Salt, pepper and oil the skin and you’re good to go. Anything else is unnecessary and gets overshadowed by the gravy and all the side dishes anyway.

– Don’t worry about basting the bird it’s not necessary and let’s heat out of the oven, which increases the cooking time.

– Don’t stuff your turkey – it will cook faster and you won’t have to worry about giving your guests salmonella. Plus, your stuffing will be mushy if you cook it inside the bird. Why have soggy stuffing when you can bake it separately in the oven and have it crisp and toasty on top?

Adjust oven rack to lowest position. If using a GE meat probe, precede to the next step. If not, set oven to 325 degrees.

Remove turkey wrapper and pat dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Do not rinse. Remove neck and giblets.

Season the outside and inside of the turkey thoroughly with kosher salt.

Fill the turkey cavity with aromatics. A mix of celery, onions, fresh herbs, apple and lemon. Rub outside of skin with softened butter and brush with soy sauce. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wings behind back.

Lucky enough to have GE meat probe? Place turkey in a roasting rack set into a shallow rimmed baking sheet. Insert meat probe into the thickest part of the breast. Place turkey in oven. Plug the meat probe into the oven and add 1 cup of water to the pan. Choose the Convection Roast mode from the menu. Set the desired temperature to 160 degrees. The oven will automatically shut off when the turkey has reached the desired temperature.

Don&rsquot have a GE meat probe? Roast until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees on a digital thermometer. Total roasting time will depend on the size of your bird. For a smaller turkey plan on 2-3 hours a larger bird will take 3-4 hours.

Remove turkey from oven. Gently tip turkey so that any juices accumulated in the cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to cutting board and let rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes before carving. This recipe pairs perfectly with our Turkey Gravy and Homemade Holiday Dressing recipes.

Tips for Harvesting Tasty Turkey

My friend, Jim Spencer, who has eaten many more wild turkeys than I have, offered these tips for enjoying a tasty bird. First, avoid body-shooting your bird. This is good advice from a hunting standpoint, too, because the best way to kill a turkey is to shoot it in the head and neck. If stray pellets find their way into the body, remove them when you clean the bird, and remove feathers the shot forced into the meat. Trim bruised and bloodshot meat away as well.

Cool the bird quickly after the kill. To do this, hang it by one foot, allowing both wings and the untied foot to dangle. This spreads the turkey out and allows faster cooling. There's no need for field-dressing if you cool the bird quickly and keep it cool.

Some hunters skin the bird because it's quicker and easier. But if you plan to roast or smoke your turkey, it's best to pluck it. Leaving the skin on helps keep the meat moist during cooking. You can pour hot water over the bird to loosen the feathers and make plucking easier. Eviscerate the bird after it's plucked, and remove the head and feet. Then you're ready to cook.

The boneless breast meat of a wild
turkey can be used as the main
ingredient in a wide variety of delectable recipes.
Photo: courtesy of the National Wild Turkey Federation

Unlike many other game animals, which may be harvested in quantity, wild turkeys are rare commodities, with only one or two killed each season by lucky hunters. For this reason, the hunter typically wants to use a preparation method that makes the most of this delectable game bird. Fortunately, this can be accomplished without a lot of fuss and bother. Simple preparation methods can be used for whole plucked birds, or, if you prefer, you can use boneless fillets of breast meat in the entree and saves other parts of the bird for use in making dressing, soup or other dishes.

All the recipes that follow are easy to prepare without exotic ingredients or hard-to-follow directions. And each transforms wild turkey into a mouth-watering repast that will have your family or dinner guests asking for extra helpings. Try them and see.

1. Grilled Marinated Turkey Breasts

  • Boneless breast meat from one wild turkey
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Lawrey's Seasoning Salt
  • Adolph's Meat Tenderizer

Slice the breast meat lengthwise to create fillets that are about 1/2 inch thick. Make a marinade by combining the soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, honey and garlic in mixing bowl. Sprinkle the fillets with the seasoning salt and meat tenderizer, then transfer the meat to a zip-seal plastic freezer bag. Pour the marinade into the bag with the turkey and seal. Turn to coat all the pieces of meat, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove the fillets from the marinade, drain and grill over a medium-hot fire for approximately 10 minutes per side or until done to taste.

2. Lemon-Herb Turkey Breast

  • 2 pounds boneless wild turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic

Mix all ingredients but the turkey. Pour the mixture over the turkey breast in a Crock-Pot and cook on low 6 to 8 hours, basting the turkey occasionally with the sauce.

3. Dijon-Breaded Turkey Breast

  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sage
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Boneless breast meat from one wild turkey
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Mix together bread crumbs, sage, parsley, melted butter and half the salt. Season the turkey breasts with the remaining salt and the pepper, then brush them with the mustard and pat on the breading mix. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until done to taste.

4. Wild Turkey Parmigiano

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup Italian-seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound boneless turkey breast fillets
  • 1 cup Italian-flavored tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a shallow bowl, beat egg whites with water. In another shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dip turkey pieces into egg mixture, then dredge in bread crumb mixture. Arrange the meat on a greased 10-inch x 15-inch baking pan. Bake 4 to 5 minutes. Pour tomato sauce evenly over the turkey and top with Mozzarella cheese. Bake 4 to 5 minutes more, or until turkey is cooked through, sauce is heated and cheese is melted.

5. Swiss Turkey Breast Over Rice

  • 2 large boneless turkey breasts, cut into three portions each
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese •1 (10-3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup milk •1 (8-oz.) bag herb-seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted

Arrange turkey breasts in a lightly-greased, 3-quart baking dish. Top with cheese. Combine soup and milk in bowl. Spoon over cheese. Sprinkle with stuffing mix. Drizzle butter on top. Cover, and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Serve over wild rice.

6. Turkey Breast and Gravy

  • 1 large (14"x20") oven bag
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 packages (7/8 ounce each) turkey gravy mix
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 to 8 pound wild turkey breast
  • Salt, black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shake flour in the oven bag place in 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Add gravy mix and water to the bag, and squeeze the bag to blend. Season turkey breast with salt and pepper, and place in the bag. Place onions in the bag around the turkey.

Close the oven bag with a twist tie cut six 1/2-inch slits in top. Bake 1-1/4 to 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the breast reads 170 degrees. For easy slicing, allow the turkey to stand in the oven bag 10 minutes. Stir gravy before serving.

7. Butterflied Wild Turkey with Lime and Oregano

  • 1 wild turkey, plucked
  • 4 limes, cut into halves
  • 4 teaspoons oregano leaves
  • Salt, pepper

With poultry shears or a knife, split turkey lengthwise along one side of backbone. Pull turkey open place, skin side up, on a flat surface, and press firmly, cracking breastbone slightly, until bird lies reasonably flat. Rinse and pat dry. (At this point, you may cover and refrigerate until next day.) Before cooking, rub juice from 1 or 2 lime halves over turkey sprinkle with oregano, then lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Barbecue turkey by indirect heat, placing turkey, skin side up, on grill directly above drip pan. Cover barbecue and adjust dampers as necessary to maintain an even heat. Cook turkey until a meat thermometer inserted in the breast registers 170 degrees, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Every 30 minutes, squeeze 1 or 2 lime halves and rub over turkey.

Turkey Fried Rice Photo by

8. Turkey Fried Rice

  • 6 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup diced turkey breast
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Soy sauce, as needed
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked rice any type (white, brown, wild)
  • 1 cup broccoli florets

Heat wok. Add 2 teaspoons oil. Add pepper, onion, carrots and broccoli florets. Cook until crisp, yet tender. Remove, and set aside. Add 2 more teaspoons oil to wok. Add eggs, scramble, remove set aside. Add remaining oil. Add turkey breast, and stir-fry until cooked, about 10 minutes. Add soy sauce to taste. Return vegetables and eggs to wok. Add rice and additional soy sauce, as desired. Mix thoroughly and serve hot.

Recipe Summary

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt-free garlic and herb seasoning blend (such as Mrs. Dash®)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (3 pound) turkey breast with skin
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 splash dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Mix 1/4 cup butter, garlic, paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic and herb seasoning, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Place turkey breast with skin side up into a roasting pan. Loosen skin with your fingers brush half the butter mixture over the turkey breast and underneath the skin. Reserve remaining butter mixture. Tent turkey breast loosely with aluminum foil.

Roast in the preheated oven for 1 hour baste turkey breast with remaining butter mixture. Return to oven and roast until the juices run clear and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, not touching bone, reads 165 degrees F (65 degrees C), about 30 more minutes. Let turkey breast rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

While turkey is resting, transfer pan drippings to a skillet. Skim off excess grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon in skillet. Place skillet over low heat cook and stir shallot in turkey grease until opaque, about 5 minutes. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet with shallot and whisk in white wine, scraping any browned bits of food from skillet. Whisk in chicken stock and flour until smooth. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened. For a creamier, lighter gravy, whisk in half-and-half.


    • 1 (16-lb) turkey at room temperature 1 hour, any feathers and quills removed with tweezers or needlenose pliers, and neck and giblets removed and reserved for another use if desired
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1 3/4 teaspoons black pepper
    • 2 cups water
    • 7 to 8 cups turkey stock
    • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  1. Special Equipment
    • 2 small metal skewers kitchen string a 17- by 14-inch flameproof roasting pan with a flat rack an instant-read thermometer a 2-qt glass measuring cup

Now that you know you want to make roast turkey, I am going to walk you through the ingredient process.

10-pound turkey – You are going to need a big turkey to make this delicious recipe. Of course, you can use a smaller turkey if you really want to.

Olive oil – This oil is going to make this recipe worth making. A little olive oil makes every recipe tastier.

Poultry seasoning – One of the star ingredients for the roast turkey is poultry seasoning. It’s going to make your turkey taste delicious.

Rosemary, thyme, lemons, and onion – You are going to need these fresh ingredients to make the recipe. It’ll be well worth adding these to your dish!

Garlic – A yummy part of this recipe is also the garlic that you will be adding to the mixture.

A complete list of ingredients can be found in the recipe card. Make sure you read through the complete list of instructions too! Once you bite into this yummy roast turkey, it will become a family favorite recipe for many generations to come.

If you are looking for an awesome stuffing recipe, be sure to try this awesome Sausage Stuffing!