Of course, Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without the turkey! Here's my simple method for cooking a beautifully moist Oven Roasted Turkey with golden, crispy skin and instructions for making the best pan gravy!
Turkey is the star of the show at most of our Thanksgiving tables, isn't it? I know for our family, the holiday just wouldn't be the same without it.
Don't be intimidated by the thought of cooking something as large as a turkey. If you can roast a chicken, you can cook a turkey!
This simple method works just as well whether your turkey is fresh or frozen. It does take a little effort to get the timing right, so I find that making a plan the week before is really helpful. I generally plan out any necessary thawing time, plus time to bring the turkey to room temperature before cooking, plus time to prep, and time to cook and rest. Let's go over those times together, shall we?
If you're starting with a frozen turkey, you'll need to thaw it in its original packaging in the refrigerator allowing at least 24 hours for every 4 pounds. After it's thawed, keep it in your fridge until you're ready to cook.
About 1 ½ hours before you start cooking, take the turkey out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature. Having it at room temp will help it cook more evenly and faster.
Prep time is pretty quick. I allow about 15 minutes to slather on the butter and sprinkle on the seasonings.
Cooking time, of course, varies according to the total weight of the turkey. I've included a timetable for you further down in the post. You'll also need to allow time for the turkey to rest before carving.
So, let's get started with the recipe!
Ingredients You'll Need
- Fresh or Frozen Turkey (When choosing your Thanksgiving turkey, you should plan on 1 to 1 ½ pounds per person; if you'd like to have leftovers, bump it up to 2 pounds per person.)
- Butter (Like most southern cooks, I use salted butter for everything.)
- Seasoning Salt (Use any seasoning mixture you like. I prefer Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt. Other people swear by Bell's Seasoning or Lawry's Seasoned Salt. Of course, just plain salt and black pepper works well, too.)
You'll find detailed measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
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How to Cook an Oven Roasted Turkey with Gravy
I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you'll find the recipe card.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
My Oven Roasted Turkey recipe is really simple and basic. All you'll need are a turkey (thawed if frozen), some butter, and seasoning salt. As far as equipment goes, you will need a roasting pan and a rack of some kind.
Prepare the Turkey
Remove the turkey from its packaging and, using disposable paper towels, pat it dry very thoroughly.
Make sure to remove the packet of giblets and neck from inside the cavity before proceeding with the recipe.
Like many cooks, I often use the giblets and neck to make stock for the gravy. Place your giblets in a saucepan and cover them with water and about a half teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes. Strain the broth and use it to make gravy.
If using a whole turkey, tuck the wing tips underneath the body. With some brands, the legs will be tucked under a flap of skin. If yours aren't, simply tie them together with twine.
Place the turkey on a rack in an open roasting pan.
Rub the skin all over with a generous amount of softened, room temperature butter.
I typically use between one and two sticks of butter for a medium sized turkey. You really want it well coated.
Sprinkle well with salt and pepper, a seasoned salt mixture, or your favorite combination of spices. My favorite seasoning to use is Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt. However, I know many people use Bell's Seasoning. You use whatever you like.
Bake Until Golden Brown
Place the pan in the preheated oven and set a timer for about ⅔ through the cooking time. When the turkey is about ⅔ done, check for browning.
If you feel that the breast and the top of the drumsticks are beginning to get too brown, make a tent of lightweight foil to drape over the top of the turkey to keep it from over-browning.
Cook according to the following timetable:
Turkey Roasting Time Table Per Pound
|6-7 pounds||2 - 2 ½ hours|
|7-10 pounds||2 ½ - 3 hours|
|10 - 18 pounds||3 - 3 ½ hours|
|18 - 22 pounds||3 ½ - 4 hours|
|22 - 24 pounds||4 - 4 ½ hours|
|24 - 30 pounds||4 ½ - 5 hours|
Test for doneness with a meat thermometer. A thermometer placed deep within the thigh should read 180 degrees when done.
Let it Rest
Remove the turkey from the oven and let it stand for 20 minutes before carving.
Make the Turkey Gravy
Remove about ¼ cup of the drippings from the roasting pan and place them in a medium saucepan. Using a whisk, blend the flour into the pan drippings. Whisk in the stock or broth a little at a time.
Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Serve sliced roast turkey on a large platter with the gravy drizzled over or on the side.
You can plan on 1 to 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person (this allows for discarding skin, bones, etc.). Go for 2 pounds if you want to have lots of leftovers.
Yes, definitely! I often place halved shallots, garlic, onion, lemons, and oranges inside the cavity along with fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme. Discard these after cooking.
You can always form a coil of scrunched up aluminum foil to place in the bottom of your pan or use a bed of vegetables such as carrots and celery to keep the turkey raised off the bottom of the pan.
Skip it completely. Basting a turkey means frequently opening the oven door which results in temperature fluctuations that can cause a dry turkey (particularly the breast meat). The butter rubbed all over will keep the turkey moist without the need for basting
I get it. Moving that big, hot turkey around can be intimidating. So, consider just roasting two small ones instead! They'll cook faster, too, since you'll base your cooking time on the smaller weights.
No. Don't cover the turkey while roasting. If you notice later in the cooking that the breast or legs are getting too brown, you can lightly cover the top with aluminum foil, but don't completely cover the turkey.
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Oven Roasted Turkey with Gravy
For the Turkey:
- 1 cup butter softened
- 2 tablespoons seasoned salt recommended: Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt
- 10 pounds turkey fresh or frozen
For the Gravy:
- ¼ cup pan drippings from turkey
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 ¾ cups turkey or chicken broth or stock
To Roast the Turkey:
- If using a frozen turkey, thaw in the refrigerator allowing at least 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey.
- Approximately 1 ½ hours before cooking, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Drain any juices from the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.
- Place the turkey breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan.
- Tuck the wings under the turkey and secure the legs with kitchen twine if needed.
- Rub the turkey generously with the butter. Sprinkle evenly with seasoned salt.
- Place the turkey in the preheated oven.
- About ⅔ through cooking time, check to make sure the breast and tops of the legs aren't browning too quickly. If needed, cover the turkey loosely with a tent of aluminum foil to prevent overcooking.
- Turkey is done when the temperature in the thigh registers 180 degrees on a meat thermometer.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 20 minutes before carving.
To Make the Gravy:
- Remove drippings from the turkey roasting pan and place in a medium saucepan.
- Using a whisk, blend the flour into the pandrippings.
- Whisk in the stock or broth a little at a time
- Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
|6 - 7 pounds||2 - 2 ½ hours|
|7 - 10 pounds||2 ½ - 3 hours|
|10 - 18 pounds||3 - 3 ½ hours|
|18 - 22 pounds||3 ½ - 4 hours|
|22 -24 pounds||4 - 4 ½ hours|
|24 - 30 pounds||4 ½ - 5 hours|
- If you don't have a roasting rack, form a coil of aluminum foil to place in the bottom of your pan or use a bed of vegetables such as carrots and celery to keep the turkey raised off the bottom of the pan.
- To enhance the turkey flavor, optionally place halved shallots, lemons, and oranges inside the cavity along with fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme. Discard after cooking.
- Skip the basting - basting a turkey means frequently opening the oven door which results in temperature fluctuations that can result in a dry finished bird. The butter rubbed all over will keep the turkey moist without the need for basting.
- Not sure you can manage a huge turkey? Just roast two small ones instead! They'll cook faster, too.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.