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Close up of sliced roast Thanksgiving turkey over a bed of greens on a plate.

How to Roast a Turkey

Katerina | Diethood
Master how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey with this easy, no-brine method. You'll love this tender, juicy roast turkey recipe topped with homemade turkey gravy, perfect for the holidays!
Servings : 12 Servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes


For the Compound Butter:
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons or 113 grams) butter, softened
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
For the Turkey:
  • 1 (12 pound) Turkey
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, cut in half, horizontally
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 10 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 10 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
For the Maple Turkey Gravy:
  • 2 cups broth and drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  • Fit a wire rack inside a large roasting pan and set aside. (Most roasting pans come with a wire rack.)
Make the Compound Butter:
  • In a medium bowl, combine softened butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Using a fork, mash and stir until well combined. Set aside.
How to Roast a Turkey:
  • Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Season inside of turkey cavity generously with salt and pepper.
  • Fill the cavity with halved bulb of garlic (use both halves), quartered onions, and all the sprigs of fresh herbs.
  • Using your fingers OR the long handle of a wooden spoon, separate the skin from the breast meat, starting at the top of the breast and slide to the right and left, then work your way down.
  • With your fingers, grab small dollops of the compound butter and rub 2/3 of the butter mixture under the turkey’s skin.
  • Then, spread the rest of the compound butter around and over the top of the skin.
  • Tie up the legs with kitchen twine; tuck the wing tips under; transfer turkey to a roasting pan fitted with a rack.
  • Place a meat thermometer into the bird, beneath the drumstick, deep into the dark meat.
  • Pour 4 cups of chicken broth inside the roasting pan and transfer turkey to the oven.
  • Place turkey in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 350ºF.
  • Roast for 40 minutes; remove from oven - close the oven door so you don’t let out the heat – baste the turkey with the drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan.
  • Place a piece of foil over the turkey breast area and put turkey back in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, basting every 40 minutes. Turkey is done when the internal temperature reads 170ºF at the thickest part of the thigh.
  • Remove turkey from the oven; transfer it to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
Make the Maple Turkey Gravy:
  • Pour out the pan juices into a heatproof bowl and skim off the fat.
  • Set the roasting pan over 2 burners on high heat until sizzling.
  • Add 1 cup of the pan juices and bring to a boil, scraping up all the browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add the liquid back into the bowl with the remaining pan juices and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in flour for 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the pan juices to the saucepan and cook (add water or broth if needed to make 2 cups), whisking, until the gravy is thickened; about 5 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup and season with salt and pepper.
  • Strain the gravy into a gravy boat.
  • Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.


  • Frozen Turkey: Let turkey completely thaw before cooking. Frozen turkey will thaw within a few days in the fridge, approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of turkey.
  • Roasting Times: For every pound of turkey, you need 13 minutes of cooking time if the turkey is not stuffed. If it’s stuffed, plan 15 minutes of cooking time per pound.
  • Check for Doneness: Turkey is done when a thermometer registers at 170ºF in the thickest part of the thigh.
  • Resting: Turkey needs to rest 30 minutes to 1 hour before cutting. The longer it sits, the better, because, it will become more tender and it will be much easier to cut.
  • Gravy: If gravy is too thick, add more broth, 1 tablespoon at a time. If gravy is too thin, make a slurry with 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Add to the hot liquid and whisk and stir until incorporated and the gravy thickens.
Reduce points to 14 without the gravy. 


Calories: 580 kcal | Carbohydrates: 6 g | Protein: 72 g | Fat: 28 g | Saturated Fat: 10 g | Cholesterol: 257 mg | Sodium: 1044 mg | Potassium: 867 mg | Fiber: 0 g | Sugar: 3 g | Vitamin A: 530 IU | Vitamin C: 4.8 mg | Calcium: 53 mg | Iron: 3.2 mg | Net Carbs: 6 g

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.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to roast a turkey, roast turkey recipe, thanksgiving turkey