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Basic Roasted Turkey Recipe

Basic Roasted Turkey Recipe

Maryse Chevriere

Basic Turkey

Try a recipe search for ‘Turkey’ on any food site and you’ll find this holiday bird brined, fried, grilled, roasted, buttered, truffle-stuffed, duck fat-rubbed, or seasoned in endless ways. But where’s the easy, straightforward recipe?

Most chefs will tell you that a good-quality product doesn’t need much work; in fact, the less you do, the more it will stand out. That's also what we believe here at The Daily Meal. It’s fun to experiment and try new recipes, but sometimes simple wins.

So we turned to chef-instructor Sabrina Sexton for a basic turkey recipe. No fancy tricks, no crazy rubs, just an easy way to cook a good-quality bird. - Yasmin Fahr


For the turkey:

  • One 8-10 pound turkey, brined if desired
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 lemon zested
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 head garlic

For the gravy:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper


For the turkey:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. If the turkey was brined, remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry. Carefully loosen the turkey skin from the breast and around the thighs.

In a small bowl, mix the softened butter with the sage and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Rub the sage butter under the skin, spreading it over the meat as evenly as possible. Brush the outside of the bird with the melted butter.

Cut the top third off the head of garlic to expose all the cloves. Place it and the zested lemon inside the turkey. Truss the bird and place it on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast the turkey, breast side up, for about 45 minutes.

Remove the bird from the oven and place it breast side down in the pan. Baste with the drippings in the pan, or additional melted butter. Return the turkey to the oven and roast an additional 45 minutes. Turn the bird so it is breast side up again and baste again. Continue roasting until the turkey reaches 165 degrees when checked in the inner thigh with a poultry thermometer. (Poultry needs 15-20 minutes per pound to cook, so a 10-pound bird will take somewhere between 2 1/2–3 hours).

If the turkey browns too rapidly, cover the breast loosely with foil to finish, or reduce the heat in the oven to about 300 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven and place it on a board to rest.

For the gravy:

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Place the roasting pan over low heat on the stove. Add the flour and stir to blend it evenly. Cook the flour mixture 1-2 minutes until the flour turns a pale brown color. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer, while stirring constantly. Carefully pour the gravy into a saucepan and simmer on the stove for 10 minutes. Strain if desired. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Carve and serve with the Sage and Cornbread Stuffing recipe.

Click here to see How to Carve the Perfect Turkey.

Click here to see the Cranberry-Jalapeño Relish recipe.

This is seriously the best roasted turkey recipe ever! No Brine, No injections needed! This juicy whole roast turkey is amazing

Everyone wants the best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe ever, but no one wants to brine, inject, and all of that other crazy stuff. Trust me, I feel you! I’m one of those people! I refuse to waste my time on one dish, when I could be making several things! That’s why when it comes to making my thanksgiving turkey, my recipe is simple.

I don’t use a brine, nor do any funny injections. I simply whip up some turkey butter, stuff the turkey’s cavity with a bunch of goodies. Since my Thanksgiving turkey recipe is so easy, I don’t have to fuss over it. I can tend to other dishes such as creamy candied yams, baked mac & cheese, and down home cornbread dressing (Oh yes darlin’, you know how I do!)

***Remember for every 1 pound, cook the turkey for 15 minutes. For an example you have a 8 lb turkey, that will be 2 hours. Also remember to cook the turkey with the breast up!***

Basic Roasted 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.

Simple Roasted Turkey

2. Remove the giblets from the turkey and save them for another use or discard. Rinse the turkey, inside and out, with cold water and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper inside and out.

3. If you are using fresh herbs, chop them. Combine the herbs, bay leaves, onions, carrots, celery and shallots together and stuff the mixture into the cavity of the bird.

4. Place the turkey in a roasting pan. Rub the olive oil under the skin of the turkey. Tuck the wings back, under the bird and truss it.

5. Place the turkey in the oven and roast until the skin is golden brown and crisp, the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a sharp knife, and a meat thermometer reads 170°F, about 3 hours. While it cooks, occasionally baste the turkey with the juices that collect in the roasting pan.

Note: Allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes and check that the temperature has come up to 180°F. (The bird will continue to cook after removing it from the oven).

6. Transfer the turkey to a serving platter. Remove the vegetables from the cavity and discard. Let the turkey rest for about 20 minutes before carving, and then serve.

Italian roast turkey

We think this is our best turkey recipe yet. When working out how to cook, remember a turkey will need a different cooking time per weight depending on how big it is. Calculate the weight the night before and don’t forget to allow one hour of resting time.

Published: March 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm


  • turkey 1 oven-ready, about 6kg
  • butter 125g
  • lemon 1, zested and halved
  • onions 2 large, 1 halved and 1 thickly sliced
  • bay leaves 2
  • garlic 1 clove, crushed
  • rosemary 1 sprig, leaves pulled off and finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • sea salt flakes to sprinkle
  • white wine 2 glasses


Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Mix the butter with the lemon and season well. Gently push your fingers under the turkey’s skin, starting from the neck end of the bird, easing the skin away from the flesh over both the breast and tops of the drumsticks – you’ll have to slide your whole hand in to reach this far. Spread the lemon butter under the skin, pushing it as far in as you can, then smooth the skin back into place. Put the onion halves and bay leaves in the turkey cavity.

How Long To Roast Turkey

How long to roast turkey depends on its size and the oven temperature. Some people prefer low and slow at 325 degrees, others blast the turkey at 425 or 450 degrees and then reduce the temperature afterward.

My method for garlic herb roasted turkey works best at 350 degrees, as higher temperatures will burn the butter and herbs. You’ll need to start with the turkey uncovered to roast the top, and then cover it to prevent burning.

Turkey roasting time chart:

Here is a chart for how long to roast turkey covered at 350 degrees F. Start by roasting the turkey to brown the skin, then cover it and continue roasting for the remaining time.

Turkey WeightRoast Uncovered First For This LongThen Cover and Roast ForTotal Time
8 to 11 lb45 minutes1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours
12 to 14 lb45 minutes1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes2 1/2 to 3 hours
15 to 17 lb45 minutes2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours3 1/4 to 3 3/4 hours
18 to 21 lb45 minutes3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
22 to 25 lb45 minutes3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
26 to 30 lb45 minutes4 hours to 4 hours 45 minutes4 3/4 to 5 1/2 hours

FYI: These times are for an unstuffed turkey. If your turkey is stuffed, add about 45 to 75 minutes to the covered roasting time (1 hour on average).

Some methods for roasted turkey say to roast it covered first and then uncover at the end, but I recommend the other way around. Then you can ensure that the skin is browned and then cook for the right amount of time after to cook the meat all the way through without risking too much browning.

This works best if the foil is tented when covering but not tightly against the turkey. If yours ends up touching it and the skin isn’t as crisp as you like at the end, you can always broil it for a couple of minutes to crisp it up, but I’ve never needed to do so.

This chart is a good starting point, but please use a meat thermometer to know for sure when your oven roasted turkey is done.

How To Know Roasted Turkey Is Done

The best way to know that a roasted turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. I prefer a meat temperature probe so that I don’t have to keep checking on it.

The USDA recommends cooking the turkey until it’s 165 to 170 degrees F in the coolest part of the bird, which is usually the thickest part of the thigh. Be careful not to touch the bone when measuring the temperature, because this can skew the reading.

However, you will need to rest your garlic butter roasted turkey after you take it out of the oven for about 20 minutes, to ensure that the juices stay in when you cut into it.

And, the temperature actually continues to rise about 15 degrees while the turkey rests!

Therefore, some people (me included!) prefer to remove the turkey from the oven when it’s at 150 to 155 degrees F, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 20 minutes to reach the safe 165 to 170 degrees F mark. Just make sure it does reach safe temperature before eating.

Easy Roast Turkey Recipe

I’ll be honest I made this turkey in August. I wanted to test and retest the recipe so that when it was time to prep for Thanksgiving, you’d be completely ready. I have to say, it’s a bit weird having your house smell like a holiday when it’s 90 degrees outside. In August, we were still eating fresh peaches and making ice cream, so when my nose was hit with the aroma of a juicy turkey my mind told me to find some cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy!

This roast turkey recipe is very simple any cook can do this. Before we talk about how to make the turkey, I have to say, be sure your turkey is completely thawed before you begin roasting. I used an 11 lb turkey for this recipe. If you have a different sized turkey, you will need to adjust the seasoning and cooking time accordingly. One thing I always do, whether I’m roasting a turkey or a chicken, is coat the skin with softened butter. Be sure to tuck the butter under the skin too. Doing this will crisp up the skin for on thing, but it will also make the turkey meat very tender and moist.

After I massage the bird with butter, I rub in my favorite herbs. This roast turkey recipe uses a combination of rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme and salt. You can easily vary this, however. I’ve had made great tasting turkey using Herb’s de Provence or Greek seasoning blends as well.

After the seasoning coats the turkey, I place the turkey in a deep roasting pan and pour chicken broth into the bottom of the pan. I believe turkey basting is a debatable process, not everyone does this. I, on the other hand always baste my poultry. I think this step is essential in getting the juiciest turkey meat. Your turkey is placed, breast side up, in an oven that has been preheated to 325 degrees. Baste your turkey with a baster or a large spoon, every 30 minutes or so.

Your cook time will depend upon whether you stuff your bird or not. I never place stuffing in my turkey sometimes I do place onion quarters or lemon or orange halves inside instead. For an 11lb turkey, I roasted my turkey for 3 hours. Plan on roughly 15-20 minutes per pound. The important thing to remember is as your turkey approaches the 3-hour mark, be sure to check the temperature. Place a meat thermometer into the thigh the thermometer should reach 165 degrees before you take out the turkey.

Remove the turkey and tent it with foil. Allow the turkey to rest for about 20 minutes before you start carving the turkey.

After I had made this roasted turkey recipe I realized one important thing I should be roasting turkeys all year long.

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.

Bone-in Turkey Breast Cooking Time

For a single, 3 pound bone-in turkey breast, I give it 17-20 minutes per pound at 400°F, or 45-60 minutes until the thickest part of the meat registers 150-155°F. Begin checking the temperature for doneness at about 45 minutes. Again, two split bone-in breasts that total 3 pounds will cook faster than a single 3 pound bone-in breast. Tent the bird with aluminum foil if the skin begins to brown too much.

If you cook the bone in split turkey breasts at the lower temperature of 350°F, roast for 20 minutes per pound.

Watch the video: Γαλοπούλα στη σούβλα. Grill philosophy (January 2022).