Holiday Limited:How to Roast a Turkey

by QiZiyue

Whether you're roasting your first bird for Thanksgiving or hosting for the 26th time, use this handy guide to roast the perfect holiday turkey.

Choose the right size turkey.

Buy about 1 1/4 lb. turkey per person.

Adjust the cook time based on the size of your bird.

A 12- to 14-lb. turkey needs anywhere from 3 to 4 hours in the oven. But an 8-pounder will likely only need 2 hours 45 minute. As with cooking anything, the cook time here depends on a number of things, including whether or not the bird is stuffed, how big it is, and if it has been thawed.
According to the USDA, a frozen turkey requires about 50% more time in the oven than a fully thawed turkey; we highly recommend starting with a fully defrosted turkey. Cooking time will also depend on the accuracy of your oven temperature.

Thaw and bring the turkey to room temperature before roasting.

If you bought your turkey frozen, be sure to give it at least 1 day in the fridge to defrost fully. Depending on its size, larger birds will likey need 2 days to defrost completely. To avoid nasty poultry juice leaking in your fridge, place the bird inside a large container, tray, or sturdy plastic bag (just make sure there are no holes first!).
While the oven is preheating, bring your bird to room temperature. Starting with a tempered bird ensures more even cooking and reduces likelihood of burning the skin on the bird before the inside is cooked all the way.


Use a roasting rack.

Though you don't technically need one, a roasting rack allows air circulation around the bottom of your turkey in the oven, which reduces the risk of undesirable soggy skin.

Start with a super hot oven, then reduce the temperature.

We like to blast the turkey with extremely hot heat (450°) for the first 30 minutes to get the skin really crispy and to seal in the juices; we then drop the temp to 350º so that the rest of the bird can cook through without burning.

Use more butter than you feel comfortable with.

Before the bird goes in the oven and while it roasts, add A LOT of butter. It's key for crispy, flavorful, golden skin. If you end up using all of the melted butter on the bird before it goes into the oven, use the drippings in the roasting pan to baste. If you have butter remaining after the initial brushing, baste with that remainder to ensure you get a flavorful, rich, golden, crispy skin.

Be patient.

After your turkey emerges from the oven, let it rest for 15 minutes—just like you would with steak. To keep it warm, cover the bird with some foil. To prevent turning the perfectly golden skin soggy, be sure to create a fold in the foil so that you can "tent" it over the bird so that it does not directly touch the turkey and trap in moisture.


1 (12-14 lb.) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 bunch thyme
Small handful rosemary sprigs
Small handful sage leaves
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1/2 c. melted butter
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth


01 Position rack to the lower third of your oven and preheat oven to 450°. Pat turkey dry with paper towels and season the cavity generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with onion, thyme, rosemary, sage, and garlic. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body to prevent burning.
02 Brush melted butter all over turkey then season generously with more salt and pepper. Place turkey breast side up on a roasting rack fitted inside a large pan. Pour chicken broth into the pan. Transfer to oven and cook for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°.
03 Continue roasting, basting every 30 to 45 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan, until internal meat temperature reaches 165° or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh, about 3 to 4 hours.
04 Tent cooked turkey with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

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