After many years of trying, we have finally found the BEST way to roast a turkey!
Although we know that there are several different ways to prepare the main dish for our Thanksgiving meal. However, many of them require countless ingredients or specialized equipment.
You can use a smoker to make Smoked Turkey. Or you could use the popular deep frying method if you prefer. But I would have to say, for most of us, making a whole turkey in the oven is the preferred method of cooking dinner for Thanksgiving.
But instead of buying an injector kit to pierce liquid into the meat of the bird during the cooking process, we take a more natural and simplistic approach to roasting a turkey.
So you will not find any crazy or special ingredients in this recipe. Nor will you need to go out a buy a special dish, fryer, or injector.
The Secret To Moist and Delicious Roasted Turkey
The true key to making a moist and delicious turkey isn’t just in the roasting process. It is actually begins the night before.
If you want the best turkey, you must allow the thawed turkey to soak in brine overnight. Allowing the turkey to soak in a salt water bath overnight helps to break down the tissue. This allows the moisture to seep into the fibers prior to cooking.
We typically use only a salt water bath. However, you could also add in a few other items to flavor the brine. For instance, feel free to chop up an onion, celery, or even a lemon or two and add it to the water.
The important part is that before you roast your turkey that it has time to soak in salt water overnight.
Then there is one more step before it is time to throw it in the oven. Now you need to add a herb butter mixture underneath the skin of the turkey.
Although it is a messy job, massaging the butter mixture directly on the surface of the turkey meat allows it to absorb additional flavor and moisture while it is roasting.
Yes, Baste The Turkey
And yes, just like Grandma always used to do, use a turkey baster to baste your turkey during the cooking process. However, it is best to wait at least one hour before you open the oven door for the first time.
Then baste the turkey every 30 minutes after the first hour of cooking time with the drippings in the bottom of the roasting pan.
And finally, the key to making the BEST roasted turkey is letting the bird rest after you take it out of the oven.
This sometimes is the hardest part as your guests might be anxious to dig right in.
However, allowing the bird to rest under the lid of the roasting pan or under aluminum foil will give the meat time to reabsorb liquid that has expelled during the cooking process.
I also continue to baste my turkey while it rests as well. Then the remaining liquid will be used for our Gravy Recipe.
Mary and Jim
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The BEST Way To Roast A Turkey
- 1 whole turkey thawed
- 1 cup Kosher salt
- 1 cup of butter
- 4 teaspoons dried sage
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 Tablespoons chopped garlic
To make the brine
Boil 1 qt. water and add salt, stirring until dissolved. Add 2 qts. of cold water and let cool to room temperature.
Prepare thawed turkey by removing neck, tail, and giblets and save for broth if you would like. Wash and pat dry.
Lower turkey into a large pot/container (we use a food grade 5 gallon bucket). If whole turkey isn’t submerged, make more brine, cool, and add. Place in refrigerator and cover at least 12 hours. *If you don’t have enough space in the refrigerator, add ice to the brine and ice frequently to keep cool.
To make the butter rub
In a food processor, add butter, sage, thyme, and garlic until smooth. *You can also do this by hand and up to 4 days ahead of time – storing in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
To prepare the turkey
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Lift turkey from brine, rinse, and pat dry.
Set turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan making sure the entire turkey is in the pan.
Slide your fingers between skin and flesh of turkey to make pockets of space at the breast, back, and leg areas.
Using your fingers, slide about half of herb butter under skin in all the pockets.
Rub remaining butter on the outer surface of the turkey.
Place on a roasting rack, breast side up.
Roast turkey, basting occasionally with pan drippings, until a meat thermometer inserted straight down through thickest part of breast to the bone registers 165 degrees, about 2 to 3 hours.
*Cook time varies with size of turkey and individual ovens – general timeframes are as follows: 8-12 lb turkey: 2 3/4-3 hours; 12-14 lb turkey: 3- 3 3/4 hours; 14-18 lb turkey: 3 3/4 -4 1/4 hours; 18-20 lb turkey: 4 1/4 -4 1/2 hours; 20-24 lb turkey: 4 1/2 -5 hours
Transfer turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let rest in a warm place 15 to 30 minutes, then carve.
Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms