Roasting a turkey at home is easier than you probably think. Doing it right? That’s a little harder. Why? Turkey is finicky. The breast meat can dry out if you go just a few degrees too far when roasting. The meat really needs to be deeply seasoned to add flavor. It takes a fair amount of effort.
Luckily, we live in the U.S. so at least whole turkeys are somewhat cheap. You can practice before Thanksgiving — like… this weekend, maybe?
Fall is the season when you need to dial in those turkey roasting skills before those big family holiday meals arrive in late November and December. Let us help you on that front with a relatively easy and very delicious turkey roasting recipe that both works every time and will wow your turkey-loving loved-ones this holiday season.
Below, we’re breaking down easy steps on how to make a very juicy and well-seasoned turkey for family dinners, parties, game nights, and more. There’s nothing fancy here. You don’t need any special equipment like a sous vide or any hard-to-find ingredients. This is all very straightforward. The only thing that you’ll need to invest is a little time. The one ripple is probably using cheesecloth on the breast as it roasts. This helps trap the moisture while letting the skin still crisp up. It 100% helps keep that white meat juicy. Trust us, it’s worth the effort!
Let’s dive in…
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Whole Roasted Turkey
- 12-15 lb. whole turkey (not pre-brined)
- 0.5 cup kosher salt
- 0.25 cup freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. paprika
- Fresh sage
- Fresh thyme
- Fresh rosemary
- 1 orange
- 1 lb. unsalted butter
- 1 bottle of dry white wine
The real star of the show is the turkey, so get a good one. I generally get a fresh turkey that’s unbrined. Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s is your best bet there. But a frozen turkey is fine too — as long as it isn’t pre-brined. The rest is all very straightforward stuff that you can get at any grocery store.
What You’ll Need:
- Brining bag (you can use a “roasting bag”)
- Large roasting pan with rack
- Food brush
- Small pot
- Cutting board
- Kitchen knife
- Remove the turkey from its bag, remove the innards (set aside for making gravy), and pat dry with a towel.
- Add the salt and spices into a bowl with a sprig of finely chopped sage, rosemary, and thyme. Mix thoroughly. Use your hand to rub the whole turkey in the spice and herb salt mix. Once completely coated in the salt mix, place the turkey into the brine bag, seal it, and place it in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 425F. Let warm for a good hour to add an even layer of heat in the oven.
- At the same time, remove the turkey from the fridge. Move the turkey from the bag to the rack in the roasting pan, breast side up. Turn the wing tips under the bird. Then, cut a piece of cheesecloth to fit over the whole breast of the turkey. Let sit while the oven heats up, allowing it to come up to room temp. (If you have a thermometer, put it into the deepest part of the breast, making sure not to hit the bone)
- In the meantime, add 1 cup of dry white wine, 1 pound of unsalted butter, and 1 sprig of rosemary, thyme, and sage to a small pot on the stove. Warm until the butter is just melted and the herbs become super aromatic.
- Right before you put the turkey in the oven, brush the whole bird with the butter-wine-herb mix, making sure it completely soaks into the cheesecloth.
- Place the bird in the oven in the center. Set an alarm for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the bird, lower the oven temp to 350F, and baste the whole bird again with the butter.
- Put the turkey back in the oven and set an alarm for 30 minutes. When the alarm goes off, re-baste the bird with the butter.
- Set the alarm for 30 minutes. When it goes off, remove the cheesecloth from the breast and baste the whole bird again.
- Set the alarm for 30 more minutes and keep an eye on the temp. Once the 30 minutes are up or the bird hits 155F, pull it from the oven. (If the bird hasn’t hit 155F yet, baste again and let it ride in the oven until it does, making sure to baste every 30 minutes)
- Place the bird on the counter and let it rest with tinfoil tented (do not wrap!) for at least an hour. The heat should carry the bird’s temp over to 160-165F easily in that hour of resting.
- Use a sharp kitchen knife to carve the turkey by removing the wings, the legs, and then the thighs. Lastly, remove the breast from the bone. Once the breast is removed, slice it against the grain (lay the breast down and slice along the vertical, not the horizontal of the section). Use the tip of the knife to remove the bone from the thigh and then slice the meat too.
Bottom Line on the Whole Roasted Turkey:
That looks as beautiful as it tastes. The seasoning went deep into the white and dark meat with a deep juiciness. The white meat was soft and full of fall-roasted herbs and savory flavors while holding a lot of juices. You don’t need any gravy for this stuff! The dark meat was super juicy and well-seasoned too. It damn near melted in your mouth.
The best part is that when you section out a turkey properly, you can transport and store it much more easily. Check the last photo below for how much smaller a whole turkey is when portioned.
But don’t throw away the turkey bones! Save those to make some deep stock or a turkey noodle soup. It’ll be tasty and comforting on a cool fall weekend.
Photos of the Turkey Roasting Process:
After 2 hours, at 155F internal temp:
30 minutes later: