Nothing is more appealing to the eye than a perfectly golden Oven Roasted Turkey.
The anticipation waiting for a turkey dinner is almost unbearable. As the heat of the oven and the smell of the turkey fills the kitchen and the house, everyone will get increasingly excited for the big meal. So there is a bit of pressure on the cook to deliver a perfectly cooked and flavorful turkey! But fear not! Follow these simple and easy instructions to make a tender, moist, golden brown, and delicious roast turkey every time.
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Easy Oven Roast Turkey
- Roasting a turkey can seem intimidating, but in reality it’s not that difficult to do. It does take time, patience and a few simple tricks! This recipe will walk any novice through the whole process so don’t hesitate to give it a try.
- An experienced home cook might be surprised to see a cheesecloth soaked in wine and butter used to cover the turkey during the first stage of cooking. This trick helps to ensure the turkey is evenly coated with the wine and butter mixture for skin that is golden brown, crispy and so delicious!
Ingredients & Variations
TURKEY: Many people prefer the Butterball brand turkey because it has been pre-brined, which helps keep it moist. To note, there is no actual butter in a Butterball turkey (although some other brands do have butter in them).
Buy your favorite fresh or frozen plain turkey and follow the instructions below for a delicious result. (I usually look for the best price, and go with that!) If you can get a fresh organic one from the butcher, they’re very tasty too!
THE BASTE: This recipe calls for a simple baste of dry white wine and butter. The cheesecloth is soaked in the basting mixture and then draped over the turkey while it cooks. This will help to ensure an even distribution of the basting mixture over the entire bird (aside from helping it to not brown too much). Remember to drape it over the turkey breast which can become dry more easily.
VARIATIONS: Add some herbs or spices to the skin of the turkey for added flavor. This recipe would also work great with a boneless turkey roast or turkey breast. Follow the timing and temperature for oven roasted turkey breast.
How to Roast a Turkey
This recipe makes the best golden-skinned and moist turkey!
- Wash the turkey and pat dry.
- Add butter and wine to a saucepan. Melt.
- Dip a folded cheesecloth into the butter mixture (use tongs)
- Place the turkey in a roasting pan. Stuff the turkey (optional), tuck wings and tie the legs. If using a digital thermometer, add it to the thickest part of the thigh, making sure to not touch any bone.
- Drape turkey with the cheesecloth and place in preheated oven.
- Cook, basting every 30 minutes. After 2 or so hours remove the cheesecloth.
- Keep cooking until it reaches the desired and safe temperature (as per the recipe below).
- Remove from oven and let rest. Carve & serve.
About Cooking times: The cooking time depends on the size of the turkey, and whether it is stuffed or not. A larger turkey will obviously take longer to cook than a smaller turkey. Here is a simple rule of thumb to help calculate approximate cook time.
- Unstuffed turkey – allow 13-15 minutes per pound at 350˚F
- Stuffed turkey – allow 18-20 minutes per pound at 350˚F.
What to Serve With Turkey
Turkey is delicious served with mashed or baby potatoes and gravy, carrots, brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower or even green beans. And don’t forget the dinner rolls with butter and use them to sop up any gravy left on the plate!
Tips for Perfect Turkey!
Be sure to give a frozen turkey ample time to thaw. The safest method is to thaw it in the refrigerator and allow about 24 hours for every 4 pounds. Also, plan to cook it at least 3 days after it has finished thawing. It is a good idea to place it in a pan or large bag to avoid any liquid leaking all over the fridge!
Rinse the turkey, then pat it dry both inside the cavity and outside as well. Some turkeys have a bag of giblets inside the cavity, so be sure to remove them but don’t throw them out. The giblets can be added to a stock made from the turkey carcass.
When it comes time to remove the cheesecloth from the turkey, baste it a bit first. It it sticks, baste again and gently tug at the cloth until it pulls off completely.
Use a meat thermometer and check the temperature of the turkey meat. It is best to place the thermometer away from the bone and behind the leg. The turkey will be fully cooked when the temperature reaches 180°F.
Once the turkey has finished cooking, allow it to rest before carving. This gives the juices time to absorb back into the meat, instead of leaking out if carved too soon. Use this time to do any final side dish preparations and make the gravy (or to cheat and use packaged gravy mix)!
To carve the turkey, use a long cutting knife or better yet give an electric cutting knife a try. An electric knife can make carving quicker and easier. My family has always used an electric knife for turkey (and roast pork and beef too!)
Other Roasting Recipes!
- Roast Turkey Breast – perfectly cooked!
- Oven Roasted Turkey Broth – a must have recipe
- Roasted Chicken and Vegetables – quick and easy dinner
Oven Roasted Turkey
- Turkey lacers if stuffing turkey
- 14-20 pound turkey
- 1-1 ½ cups butter
- 2-3 cups white wine
- stuffing (if stuffing turkey)
- turkey gravy
- Rinse and dry turkey (remove anything in the cavity). Allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450˚F with rack on the lowest level. Open cheesecloth, and fold into a large square, one that will cover most of the turkey.
- Meanwhile, just before preparing turkey for the oven, add butter and wine to a small saucepan. Heat on low until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Using tongs, add cheesecloth and allow to soak up wine and butter mixture.
- Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Fold wings tips behind the turkey. If stuffing the turkey, fill cavity loosely with stuffing** (do not pack it). Using kitchen twine, tie legs together with a bow. Fill neck loosely with stuffing (do not pack it) and secure flap with toothpicks.
- Remove cheesecloth from the wine mixture, and drape it over the turkey breast, covering as much of the turkey legs as possible. Place turkey in the oven.
- After 30 minutes, baste entire turkey very well with wine mixture* (use a turkey baster or a pastry brush). Work to baste and close the oven as quickly as possible.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and every 30 minutes baste turkey. After about 1 ½ hours, turn the pan around for more even browning (optional). After 2 ½ hours, carefully remove the cheesecloth (you may want to lightly baste it if you feel like it’s sticking slightly) and baste the turkey (if wine mixture runs out, use pan juices to baste). If the bottom of the pan is dry, add about one cup of broth, or if there is too much juice, remove some from the pan and reserve for gravy.
- To check for doneness after 3 hours of roasting (or 4 for a 20 pound turkey), check the temperature of the turkey in the thigh (make sure to not touch the bone). The turkey is cooked once it reaches 180°F (and the breast and stuffing reach 165˚F or more). Continue to cook, basting every 30 minutes, until the turkey thigh reaches 180˚F and the juices run clear.
- Once fully cooked, place turkey on a cutting board, and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes (or more) before carving (and removing stuffing).
- While turkey rests, make turkey gravy (including pan juices and remaining wine basting mixture). Carve turkey and serve with stuffing and gravy.
**Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375°F. 14 pound turkey serves 10 and will take about 3 hours to cook.
20 pound turkey serves 14 and will take about 4 hours to cook. Be sure turkey temperature checked at the thigh (not touching the bone) measures 180˚F.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.