Making a perfect Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to be difficult! Try this Easy Roast Turkey Recipe with butter, fresh herbs, and garlic for a holiday meal everyone will enjoy.
A Delicious Roast Turkey Recipe
Roasting a turkey can often feel as complex as baking a cake, with endless methods and techniques available. However, just as a delicious cake can be made simple and delicious, so can a roast turkey, and perhaps even more easily! This recipe is a testament to that simplicity, and we’re taking it back to basics. A combination of fresh herbs, real butter, and garlic ensures the turkey is flavorful from the inside out. The key to the tender, juicy meat lies in the easy salt-water brine, letting the turkey soak in it for 12 to 24 hours before roasting. There’s no fuss, no extra steps, and no lengthy ingredient list. This Thanksgiving, let the simplicity of this recipe shine. Every bite is juicy and flavorful, proving that sometimes, less is indeed more when it comes to cooking a memorable turkey!
Why We Love This Turkey Recipe
- Simple Prep: This recipe takes the intimidation out of roasting a whole turkey, offering an easy approach that emphasizes simplicity.
- Delicious: The brining process ensures the meat is tender while the herbs impart a homey aroma and taste.
- Great For Beginners: If it’s your first time roasting a turkey or you’re looking for a no-fail method, this recipe is for you. The uncomplicated steps and minimal ingredients list ensure a stress-free cooking experience.
- Adaptable: The beauty of this recipe leaves room for cooks to add their own touch, be it through additional spices, variations in herbs, or creative stuffing ideas.
Ingredients For A Roast Turkey
This turkey recipe is a testament to the notion that delightful flavors don’t have to be complicated, making it a go-to choice for a stress-free and delicious holiday meal!
For the Turkey
- Water: A few quarts, to cover the turkey.
- Salt: I use kosher salt. Sea salt would also be good.
- Whole Turkey: An 8 to 10-pound turkey, thawed.
- Onion: Cut a yellow onion (or any kind of onion) into quarters.
- Garlic: Cut the head of garlic in half.
- Herbs: You will need sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley. You’ll also need a couple of bay leaves.
- Butter: A stick of butter, melted and divided.
- Roasting Pan and Rack: You’ll need a big roasting pan, large enough to hold the turkey comfortably, and a roasting rack that fits inside the pan.
- Foil: For tenting the turkey while it bakes.
- Meat Thermometer: To check for doneness.
How to Make a Perfect Roast Turkey
The main thing to remember with this recipe is to give yourself enough time. The turkey should be thawed and then chilled in the brine for 12 to 24 hours before you start roasting. And since ovens vary, you may need extra roasting time, as well. Basically, it pays to budget more time than you think you’ll need – that way, you won’t have to worry about a time crunch.
- Make the Brine. A whole day before you are planning to roast the turkey, set a saucepan on the stove and warm up 4 cups of water. Take it off the heat, and stir in the salt until it dissolves.
- Brine the Turkey. Remove the giblets from the turkey, and place the turkey in a clean bucket or container that is large enough to hold the turkey and the brine. Pour the salt water brine over the turkey, and then pour in the remaining 3 quarts of water. Make sure the turkey is fully submerged in the brine. If necessary, use a heavy plate to weigh it down. Cover the bucket and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
- Rinse. When you’re ready to cook, take the turkey out of the brine and rinse it under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out.
- Arrange the Turkey for Roasting. Place a rack in the lowest position of your oven, and set your oven to preheat to 325˚F. Stuff the onion wedges, garlic, herbs, and bay leaves into the turkey’s cavity, and then place the turkey breast-side-up on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Brush the turkey all over with half of the melted butter, and tent with foil.
- Roast. Roast for 2 hours, and then uncover the turkey. Baste it with the rest of the melted butter, turn up the oven temperature to 425˚F, and roast for about 45 more minutes, or until the internal temperature of the turkey thigh registers at 165˚F.
- Rest. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.
How Long Does It Take to Roast a Turkey?
In general, it should take about 13 to 15 minutes per pound for a turkey to cook through. Make sure you let the turkey roast until the thigh registers at 165˚F for food safety. Use an Instant Read Meat Thermometer to check for doneness.
Is It Better to Roast a Turkey Covered or Uncovered?
It works best to roast covered at first to keep the meat from drying out as it cooks. Then, roast uncovered so the skin can have a chance to crisp up and turn golden brown. Remember that in this case, “covered” means loosely tented with foil, not tightly covered.
Tips for Roasting A Turkey
- Skip the Brine: If necessary, you can skip the brining part of this recipe. However, I highly recommend not skipping it because the brine makes the turkey so much juicier and more tender.
- When Is Turkey Done? The safest way to test for doneness is to use a meat thermometer. Test in the thickest part of the thigh. If it doesn’t reach 165˚F, keep roasting until it does.
- Rest Time: I get it – if anyone deserves a rest, it’s the cook, right? Well, when cooking turkey (and most other meats), letting it rest before you carve it makes it easier to carve. It also helps the meat stay juicy.
- Cranberry Sauce: This Slow Cooker Spiced Cranberry Sauce is full of the flavors of the season, and its gorgeous red color truly adds beauty to the table.
- Mashed Potatoes: Is there a Thanksgiving meal without them? I suggest making these Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes or making my Vesuvio Potatoes.
- Green Bean Casserole: Try this classic Green Bean Casserole Recipe for a from-scratch version of everyone’s favorite side.
- Stuffing: Turkey and stuffing are a match made in heaven, especially when the stuffing is Cheesy Italian Sausage Stuffing or even this Traditional Stuffing. It’s loaded with flavor and easy to make.
How to Store and Reheat Turkey Leftovers
- Leftover roast turkey should be taken off the bone and refrigerated in an airtight container or zip-top bags. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
- Reheat the leftover turkey in the oven, microwave, or in a covered skillet over low heat. Add some juices or gravy when reheating to help keep the turkey moist.
- To freeze, let the turkey cool down and remove the meat from the bone. Pack into freezer bags, and mark the bags with the date. Freeze for up to 3 months, and always thaw in the refrigerator before reheating and serving.
Easy Roast Turkey Recipe
- 4 quarts water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 8 to 10 pound whole turkey, thawed
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 1 whole garlic bulb, halved
- sprigs of thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
- In a saucepan, warm up 1 quart (4 cups) water. When warm, remove it from the heat and stir in the salt until dissolved.
- Grab a bucket large enough to hold the turkey and the liquid.
- Remove giblets from the turkey, set those aside or discard, and transfer the turkey to the bucket. Pour the prepared salt water (brine) over the turkey.
- Then, pour in the remaining 3 quarts of water. Make sure the turkey is submerged; if needed, weigh it down with a heavy plate or stone.
- Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. NO more than 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cold water.
- Pat dry the turkey with paper towels, inside and out.
- Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Adjust a rack in the lowest position of your oven.
- Stuff the turkey cavity with the onion wedges, garlic halves, herbs, and bay leaves.
- Set the turkey breast-side-up on a roast rack set in a roasting pan.
- Brush the turkey with half of the melted butter. Tent with foil and roast for 2 hours. Remove the foil and baste the turkey with the rest of the melted butter.
- Increase the oven temperature to 425˚F and continue to roast for about 45 more minutes, or until the internal temperature of the turkey thigh registers at 165˚F. Baste every 15 minutes with the juices that are inside the roasting pan.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
- Carve and serve.
- Preparation: Give yourself enough time because you will have to brine the turkey for 12 and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Size of Turkey: You should consider about 1-pound of turkey per person.
- Thawed Turkey: You should thaw out the turkey because it can take much longer to cook if frozen. Keep in mind that the bigger the turkey, the more time it will need to defrost. You could be talking about 2 to 4 days for just thawing. Yes, you can cook a frozen turkey, but remember that you will need to estimate around 50% longer cooking time.
- Cooking Time for Turkey: A larger, 12 to 14-pound turkey will need up to 4.5 hours in the oven, but a smaller 8 to 10-pound turkey will be done in about 3 hours.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.