Five Steps to a Perfectly Roasted Turkey with Recipe

Get the perfect roasted turkey in five simple steps!

  1. Place the turkey breast side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Do not add water. 
  2. Before placing the turkey in the oven, you may want to brush it with cooking oil, melted butter or margarine, although it’s not necessary. (Check out the Roasted Turkey recipe below)
  3. Cover the turkey with a loose tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent over browning, allow for maximum heat circulation and keep the turkey moist. To make a tent, tear off a sheet of foil 5 to 10 inches longer than the turkey. Crease the foil crosswise through the center and place over the turkey, crimping loosely onto the sides of the pan to hold it in place.
  4. Roast according to the following chart.
  5. To brown the turkey, remove the foil tent 20 to 30 minutes before roasting is finished, and continue cooking until the meat thermometer reaches 185 F.

FYI: Basting usually is not necessary during roasting since it cannot penetrate the turkey’s skin. Also, frequently opening the oven door prolongs cooking time.

FYI: When using a meat thermometer, insert it through the foil into the thickest part of the thigh muscle without touching bone. The inner thigh is the area that heats the slowest. For other parts of the turkey, insert the thermometer in the thickest area.

Roasting Chart

The following times are based on an oven preheated to 325 F. Use shorter cooking times for wild turkey so it doesn’t dry out.

Weight (pounds)                  Unstuffed (hours)                  *Stuffed (hours)

4 to 6 (breasts)                        1½ to 2¼                                    -----

6 to 8                                      2¼ to 3¼                                 3 to 3¼

8 to 12                                    3 to 4                                      3½ to 4½

12 to 16                                  3½ to 4½                                4½ to 5½

16 to 20                                  4 to 5                                      5½ to 6½

20 to 24                                  4½ to 5½                                 6½ to 7          

24 to 28                                  5 to 6½                                    7 to 8½

Drumsticks, quarters, thighs     2 to 3½                                     -----

* Do not partially roast a stuffed turkey one day and complete roasting it the next. Interrupted cooking enhances the possibility of bacterial growth.

Try this specialized Roasted Turkey Recipe submitted to "Cooking Across Turkey Country" by: Gregory Werner, NWTF Director of Information Technology


  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • couple sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary


Make brining mixture, mixing all ingredients. Squeeze the oranges and lemons into the mixture and toss in the rinds too. Soak turkey in a cooler with ice and the brining mixture overnight. If you need more brine, use ½ cup salt and ½ cup brown sugar for every gallon of water. Use additional fruit as desired.

I lightly stuff the turkey with a couple celery stalks, onion pieces and a couple carrots, along with a half lemon and half orange from the brine mixture. Roast turkey.

Special Information

I’ve cooked turkeys for many years and the best ones always start with 24 hours of brining. The acids in the fruit help tenderize the meat, and the salt and sugar makes the turkey super juicy and tasty.

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