Oven Roasted Turkey Made Simply
A simple Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe seasoned with fresh herbs, garlic and lemon. Then baked until golden brown. Crispy on the outside, juice and full of flavour throughout!
For some reason, many people are intimidated about making a turkey. But in fact, there is nothing scary or hard about making a turkey. Even a beginner cook can pull together this Oven Roasted Turkey recipe easily. The most important part of making a turkey in my opinion really just comes down to planning and timing.
Make sure you have the turkey fully thawed if frozen. Allowing enough time to cook for the size of turkey you bought. And allowing a little time for it to rest before slicing. Once you have the timing down the rest is easy.
In this post, I will show you how to make a roasted turkey like a pro. Along with some tips and rules of thumb to make your holiday dinner go off without a hitch.
The turkey part that is… I can’t control what happens when family visits. God knows I wish I could! That is what wine is for! Sometimes lots and lots of wine…
But one thing I can promise is this Roasted Turkey Recipe is sure to become a tradition in your house for Thanksgiving, Christmas and all the family gatherings in between!
What You’ll Need To Make A Roasted Turkey
- Turkey – fresh or frozen although I prefer fresh.
- Large Roasting Pan
- Meat Thermometer – preferably digital
- Heavy-Duty Aluminum Foil
- Carving Knife
- Olive Oil – used to give flavour, help the herbs stick and creat a crispy skin
- 2 Lemons – steams inside the cavity to give the meat amazing flavour.
- 2 Medium Onions
- 1 Bunch Fresh Thyme
- 3 Cloves Garlic
- Ground Thyme
- Ground Sage
- Garlic Powder
- Salt & Pepper
- White Wine – Adds a subtle tanginess and nice flavour to the gravy as well as to steam the bird while cooking so it doesn’t dry out.
- Turkey or Chicken Broth
How Much Turkey Per Person?
One of the biggest worries when choosing a turkey is knowing what size turkey to buy. The rule of thumb on this is about 1 ½ lb of turkey per person. This takes into account the bones etc. so don’t worry you will have enough room for pie at the end!
I personally always like to make enough so that I know I will have leftovers so I like to pretend there are 2 or 3 more people coming to dinner and buy my turkey accordingly. If you are purchasing a smaller turkey about 12-13 lbs keep in mind that a smaller turkey still has to have a skeleton so the bone to meat ratio is a little skewed. For smaller turkeys under 13 lbs buy enough for 2 lbs per person.
I have a family of 4 so when I make a turkey just for us I usually buy a 12-13 lb turkey and have lots of leftovers.
How To Thaw A Turkey
I like to buy fresh turkeys but outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are hard to find. Frozen turkeys are flash frozen so they taste just as fresh as a fresh turkey but they take quite a bit of time to fully thaw properly. This is where planning comes into play.
There are two ways to safely thaw a frozen turkey. I prefer the first method.
Two Ways To Thaw a Frozen Turkey
Thawing a Turkey In the Fridge
Allow 24 hours for every 5 lbs of turkey. See why I say you need to plan ahead! This is certainly the slowest method but much easier than the second method.
Thawing a Turkey In Cold Water
Place the frozen turkey in a sink of cold water and let sit for 30 minutes per pound of turkey. Then every 30 minutes drain the water and refresh it with a sink full of fresh cold water.
Imagine doing this method with a 15 lb turkey. That would mean 7-8 hours of doing this! My recommendation is to plan and refer to the first method.
Be sure to check out this post from Ontario Turkey on how to best thaw out your turkey.
To Brine or Not To Brine Your Turkey
There are two ways you can brine a turkey. A wet brine and a dry brine. The idea behind bringing a turkey is to help maintain the juiciness and tenderness of the turkey while cooking.
This Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe uses a dry brine. Salt and spices are rubbed into the skin of the turkey which creates a crispy skin trapping the moisture inside the turkey and adding tremendous flavour.
How To Make An Oven Roasted Turkey
Remove the fresh or thawed turkey from the plastic bag and remove the giblets and neck from inside the turkey cavity (gross I know!).
Let the turkey from the fridge and let sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to come up to room temperature. This will help it to more evenly cook.
Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel – outside and inside. This will make for a crispier skin once baked…. you know the best part!
Baste the outside and inside of the turkey with olive oil once dried. Then preheat the oven to 350°F
Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan that allows enough room for air to circulate around the turkey. If it is too tight it will be difficult for the turkey to brown on all sides.
In a small bowl add the dried herbs including salt and pepper and give it a mix. Massage the seasoning mix all over the inside and outside of the turkey.
Stuff the turkey with onions, lemons, thyme and garlic. Make sure the gross giblets etc and the icky plastic bag it usually comes in has been removed. Double check! I have made this mistake before.
Add the wine and turkey or chicken broth to the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour them into the corner of the pan and not over the turkey or you will wash away all the herbs into the pan. And this would make me sad because the herbs on that crispy skin are gold! My sister and I used to fight over this crispy skin… It sounds gross when I say it like that but it is the truth!
Then place the turkey in the oven uncovered to roast.
I don’t baste my turkey because I feel like it washes away those amazing herbs again and also prevents the skin from getting crispy. I mean it makes sense. If you keep adding liquid to the skin how the heck is it going to dry out and get crispy.
I find the broth and wine alone keep the bird moist by steaming it really while it bakes.
Cooking Turkey In a Convection Oven
I have a convection oven and you can most certainly roast turkey in a convection oven but you must keep an eye on it. Since a convection oven circulates the hot air all around this means that the convection roast turkey will cook faster than usual and it also means it may brown quicker.
If you check on the turkey and it is looking like it’s browning too quickly then tent it with foil to keep it from browning further. Also, make sure to check on the internal temperature so that you pull it out before it overcooks and becomes dry.
Should You Baste Your Turkey?
Basting your turkey is exactly what you don’t want to do. The end game is to get a moist turkey with crispy skin which means keeping the moisture inside the turkey, not on the outside.
Brining your turkey works to keep your turkey moist by trapping the moisture inside the turkey with that nice slightly salty spice rub you massaged on your turkey. So there is really no need to baste.
If you do find your turkey looks to be getting too crispy on the outside the best way to stop over-browning is to tent the turkey with some aluminum foil. This will stop further browning while the turkey continues to cook.
My Mother In Law uses cabbage leaves instead of turkey but which stops the browning but slightly moistens the skin making it less crispy than I like (shhh… don’t tell her I told you).
How Long To Cook An Oven Roasted Turkey
Every oven is different so using a meat thermometer is the best way to truly know when your turkey is cooked. Cooking times vary but the approximate rule of thumb is 30 minutes per pound of turkey at an oven temperature of 350°F. Again, this timing will vary based on your oven, size of the turkey and whether you decided to stuff your turkey with stuffing or not.
Be sure to check out this link from Canadian Turkey which breaks down the cooking times required by the size of the turkey and the stuffed or unstuffed version.
Your turkey will be done cooking when it reaches an internal temperature of 170°F when inserted into the thickest part of the turkey breast and 180°F when it is inserted into the inner thigh/drumstick of the turkey.
Once the turkey is cooked to temperature take it out of the oven and tent completely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 15 minutes. During cooking the meat juices tend to move to the centre of the meat. Resting allows the juices to flow back to the outside pieces of the turkey so that every piece is juicy and delicious. Believe me, it is worth the tiny wait!
Congratulations you did it! See it wasn’t that hard after all. Just a little planning is what makes all the difference!
Now that you have your beautiful Thanksgiving Turkey or Holiday Turkey resting what do you do with all those beautiful pan juices? Make Turkey Gravy of course!
How To Make Turkey Gravy
- Place a strainer over a medium or large saucepan depending on how much juice you have to work with
- Pour pan juices into the strainer over saucepan to remove any turkey pieces that may have fallen into the pan along with onion and thyme bits
- In a small cup add ¼ cup cold water and then mix in 2 tbsp of corn starch. Mix well to ensure there are no lumps
- Pour into the saucepan with the pan juices and mix well. Don’t worry it won’t make your gravy turn white. This little mix is what thickens the gravy and then disappears like magic!
- Over medium heat stir and let the gravy thicken. Add salt and pepper as desired.
- Remove from heat when it reaches the desired consistency about 7 minutes and then pour into a gravy boat
- Serve alongside the turkey and let’s not forget over mashed potatoes!
You now need some wonderful side dishes to complete your Thanksgiving or Holiday Meal. Here are some perfect side dishes that will go perfect!
Side Dishes to Go with Thanksgiving Turkey
- Tuscan Kale and Bread Stuffing
- Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Leeks
- Pureed Parsnips
- The Ultimate Baked Acorn Squash
Most people think about making turkey only during the holidays but if you think about it turkey is a great family meal all year long.
What Makes This Recipe Great
- It is big enough for a whole family.
- Once it is in the oven you have hours to do other things while it cooks.
- There are usually lots of leftovers or buy big enough so there are lots of leftovers
- Leftover turkey can be turned into tonnes of other dishes
Recipes to Make with Leftover Turkey
- Turkey Soup
- Turkey Pot Pie
- Turkey Sandwiches
- Turkey Tacos
As you can see, turkey is nothing to be afraid of. This Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe is so simple and delicious it is sure to make you look even more of a superstar this Thanksgiving than you already are!
Oven Roasted Turkey Made Simply
- Large Roasting Pan with Roasting Rack
- Measuring Spoons
- Measuring Cups
- Carving Knife
- Aluminum Foil
- Meat Thermometer
- 1 whole turkey 12-15 lbs (5-7 kg)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 med onions, quartered
- 2 lemons halved
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup turkey or chicken broth
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp ground sage
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- Pan juices, strained
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- salt and pepper, as per taste
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Removed fresh or thawed turkey from the plastic bag and discard giblets and neck (unless of course, you plan to cook them later)
- Pat inside and outside of turkey dry with paper towels. Wash hands thoroughly before moving on.
- In a small bowl add 2 tbsp salt, 1 1/2 tbsp pepper, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp ground sage and 1 tbsp dried thyme. Mix well. Set Aside
- Place turkey in a large roasting pan on top of a wire roasting rack if you have one. If you don't it will still be ok no need to worry. Place Baste entire turkey inside and out with olive oil
- Place Baste entire turkey inside and out with olive oil then gently massage entire turkey inside and out with salt and spice rub
- Stuff turkey with lemons, onions, garlic and fresh thyme
- Add white wine and turkey or chicken broth to the pan. Do not pour over turkey or you will wash the spice rub away.
- Bake in the oven for 3 -3 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken breast when tested with a meat thermometer reaches 170F and 180F in the inside thigh of the drumstick.
- Once cooked to temperature remove from oven and tent with foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.
- Once rested, carve away and serve immediately
- Place a strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the pan juices from the cooked turkey into the pan through the strainer.
- In a small cup add a 1/4 cup of cold water and 2 tbsp of corn starch. Mix well to ensure there are no lumps.
- Add cornstarch mixture to the strained pan juices and over medium heat stir until well blended. Continue to simmer until the gravy thickens to desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
I’m a pretty good cook, but The turkey has been the bane of my Thanksgiving existence. This year, was my last year to make it and if it didn’t turn out well and/or was still pink in the middle I was not going to make one again. This recipe and instructions are spot on, my turkey was delicious…..and cooked all the way through. Thank you for posting this recipe!
Oh, Kathy that makes my day! At first, I was like… wait where is this going… it can’t be LOL… then just like always this recipe didn’t fail me or you! Enjoy your thanksgiving!
I’ve never cooked a turkey, and I’m looking forward to using your recipe. I’ve been told to use a turkey bag to cook the turkey in to ensure a moist turkey. Any suggestions on using that with your recipe?
TIA & happy thanksgiving!
I have never used a turkey bag and my turkey always turns out moist. I don’t see why though it would hurt. The only concern I have is if cooking in a turkey bag will still allow for the turkey skin to get crispy. When I make super large turkeys I do find that the skin starts to get darker in the last bit of roasting so to keep the moisture in and avoid the skin getting too brown I just tent my turkey with a big piece of aluminum foil. This helps trap some of the moisture when cooking a large turkey for longer but keeps the skin crispy and stops further browning. Hope that helps but if you do use a turkey bag I would love if you could tell me how it turns out.
I was looking to dry brine but not sure what to put on it. Do I just use the same herbs and spices you use prior to cooking the turkey? I’m not exactly sure what to do.
Hi Danielle, Yes just follow the steps and use the spices and salt in the recipe and it will turn out perfectly.
First timer making a whole turkey and excited to give this recipe a try! Question, can I use cooking wine instead?
Hi Tara, You can definitely use cooking wine. Cooking wines are less potent and flavourful than a drinking wine but will still work very well for this recipe to add a nice flavour to the turkey and gravy. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions I will keep checking today in case you need help. I would love to see a pic when you are finished!
Very detailed directions! I love that. I always use a dry brine of some kind and I think I will give your recipe a go this year to change it up a bit.
Please do and share a pic. I love to see how everyone’s creations look!
What a gorgeous and flavorful looking bird!
i love turkey so this is the best
I am gearing up for Thanksgiving and have decided that I am going to try a dry brine for the first time ever. *fingers crossed* Thank you for the information and recipe!
Thank you for this easy to follow recipe! I love the herbs and crispy skin!
Your turkey looks so flavorful and delicious! I love that crispy skin!
This is so helpful. I think a dry brine is definitely the way to go, too. I am definitely going to pull up this post when I need help!
Wow, isn’t that one a beauty! I’m sure your expertise will help so many get that juicy delicious turkey that everyone wants.
That is one of the prettiest and most inspiring turkeys I’ve ever seen! Thank you for all the clear insights with the recipe! Looking forward to cooking mine!
That is one gorgeous turkey! I actually make mine very similarly and it comes out fantastic every time!
Thank you Jean!
Thanks for explaining that the amount of time depends on the weigh of the turkey. I want to impress my wife this thanksgiving by cooking the turkey. I’ll make sure to go follow your recipe to make the best dinner.
That is so great Eli! Reach out if you need any help or have any questions. I am happy to help!
I just watched the video. You were fantastic, Alisa! Such a natural in front of the camera #superstar
Your turkey looks absolutely beautiful! I usually leave the turkey cooking to my mum as I’m one of those who gets intimidated! Maybe this Christmas I should try it myself!
You should most definitely try it this Christmas Jacquelline! So much easier than people think. I would love to hear what you think of the recipe!
I was always puzzled about roasting the whole turkey. But with your recipe and instructions now that task will be much easier. Thanks for sharing this. I absolutely love the spices you used here.
Thanks Natalie! So glad I am able to help.
Yes! I love this straightforward step by step. You are so right…. many people are intimidated about cooking turkey, I guess just because of the size of it. Thank you for simplifying the process.
So glad I helped make the process easier! Please let me know how your turkey turns out for you!
Thanks for all those tips on how to make turkey! By the way, your photos look amazing!
Thanks so much!
This is beautiful! Looking forward to cooking this for thanksgiving AND enjoying leftovers 😉