how to roast a turkey for Thanksgiving

People, we want to make your lives easier. That’s why we shot all these videos, worked with Debra and Rod to edit them, and have been posting one every day for November.

(Can I tell you a secret? I’m very excited for Thanksgiving to be over soon. This has been a little exhausting.)

Let’s talk about how we can make Thanksgiving — tomorrow! — much easier than you think.

Let’s roast a turkey.

That’s it. That’s all you have to do.

Let’s recap.

Buy a good turkey. We’ve bought one of these because we support the work that farm does but also because a turkey raised this way tastes so good. But any turkey you like will work. Just beware that some turkeys with basting solutions in them can contain gluten. Ask.

Heat the oven to 500°.
Rub some olive oil over the turkey. Butter is fine but it has a lower smoke point than olive oil so it might start to burn in the high heat. Don’t worry. We’ll use it later.

Season the turkey with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

Roast it at 500° for 20 minutes. Time it.

Turn down the heat to 375°. It will stay there the rest of the time.

Baste the turkey with butter. Once the temperature is lower, start using butter. Baste it frequently. Every 30 minutes? Oh let’s be honest — whenever you remember.

Cook the turkey until the legs have reached 185° on a thermometer. This is all you need to know. We’re not giving you a time here because you all have different turkeys. Ours is 18 pounds. How about yours?

Let the turkey rest once it’s out of the oven. Letting the turkey rest is key. And guess what? You don’t have to do anything here. Cover the turkey with tin foil and set it aside while you finish the rest of the meal. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes. 30 minutes is better.

That’s it. I’m serious. That’s it.

You can add things here, like fresh herbs under the skin of the turkey, or a spiced butter for the basting. But really, the only thing anyone wants for Thanksgiving is a juicy, roasted turkey. Here it is.

Now, feel free to ask as many questions as you want here. We’re here.

Happy Thanksgiving.


5 comments on “how to roast a turkey for Thanksgiving

  1. Carol King

    I had never heard to start at the high temperature before, it makes sense for a nice crisp brown skin. I will have to try that on my next turkey. Have you tried brining a turkey? I love the flavor it adds to the chicken I have tried, it’s just that a turkey is pretty big bird to brine so I haven’t tried it.

    1. Dee

      I’m no expert. So hopefully the lovely Shauna and the Chef will comment here. 🙂 But I have to say that brining a turkey is key for me. People absolutely rave about my turkeys, and I’m like…I just soak it in salt water, people. It’s easy. I boil about a gallon of water in a large stock pot with 1 cup sea salt, +/- 1 Tbsp each of Rosemary, Thyme, Sage…boil it until the salt dissolves and the herbs soften. Then I put the turkey breast down in a huge food safe container with lots of ice…then I dump the brine over it, make sure the whole turkey is covered in water, and weasel the whole thing into the fridge. I soak mine for about 48 hours if I can. The longer you soak, the juicier it is. 🙂 Seriously…the juice pretty much squirts out of the meat. 🙂

  2. Callista

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m 24, I live 2,000 miles away from my nearest family, and I’ve never made a turkey for Thanksgiving because the idea COMPLETELY overwhelms me (have you SEEN how much information is out there about how to make, “THE BEST THANKSGIVING TURKEY EVER!!!!!”). You made it so simple and easy to understand, that I’m ready to go home and roast a turkey tonight! I’ve bookmarked this on my computer, and I fully intend to give it a shot here in the near future.

    As someone who is mildly terrified of cooking, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to see such an approachable recipe for an all-American staple. Thank you for making cooking (gluten-free cooking at that!) less scary. As a gluten-free youngin, I’m indescribably grateful for your straightforward, no-frills recipes. You’re always my go-to girl when I’m searching for a wholesome, easy-to-follow, gluten-free classic. What’s even more miraculous, is that every recipe I’ve ever come searching for, you’ve already made available. Every. Single. One. Even as someone who rarely cooks, you’ve positively impacted my life in so many ways. Most of my (very positive) attitude toward gluten-freedom can be traced back to you. Please don’t ever underestimate the power of your words, your recipes.

    Thanks for all you do, Shauna. I think you’re really terrific.

  3. Brenda M

    Thank you,Shauna and Danny for all you go through to make life better for us. For me, you have made living gluten-free not just possible, but extremely palatable. Your videos are unbelievably helpful and I am anxious to get my hands on your new book! Although you seem to get a lot of complaints from people, I want you to know that some of us out here really appreciate the hours (days, weeks, months) you put in to get recipes that are right. Thank you. We had a wonderful, safe thanksgiving dinner and it was in large part due to the information you provided.

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