Learn how to cook a turkey with these simple instructions and video demonstration. Cooking a turkey is easier than you think!
A turkey takes 10-15 minutes per pound to cook. Farm fresh turkeys cook faster.
A turkey needs to cook until it reaches 165°F.
It takes up to 1 day for every 4 pounds of weight. Put your turkey in the fridge 2-3 days in advance so it will thaw.
Cook for 30 minutes at 500°F and then reduce the temperature to 350°F and cook until the turkey reaches 165°F.
Estimate 1 pound per person, this accounts for the bone weight.
A turkey should rest 30-40 minutes before carving. Use this time to make gravy from the pan drippings.
These instructions will teach you how to cook a turkey in the easiest way possible. No brining, no trussing, no stuffing the bird – minimal active preparation time. Just the secrets to making the most delicious turkey.
There are many different ways to cook a turkey, but my family has settled on cooking the turkey at 500 degrees for 30 minutes and then finishing it off at 350 degrees. This technique results in a juicier turkey.
The night before Thanksgiving (or whatever day you are cooking a turkey) you want to remove any packaging from the turkey, remove the giblets and neck that might be inside the bird, rinse the turkey, dry it, and place it on a pan and put it in the fridge.
The inside of the turkey might be a little icy, but removing the neck and giblets will help the inside of the turkey to fully thaw. That is why I recommend doing this step the day before. Additionally, letting the turkey dry out uncovered will result in a crispier skin on the turkey when it cooks.
You also want to figure out what time the turkey needs to come out of the fridge and go into the oven the next day. Calculate how long the turkey will take to roast, it usually takes about 12 minutes a pound but the range is 10-15 minutes per pound. Add in an hour to let the turkey sit and come closer to room temperature, 20 minutes for seasoning and preparing the turkey to go in the oven, and 30 minutes for the turkey to rest before carving and serving.
I like to simply season the turkey by placing garlic, lemon, and onion inside the turkey. I put salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary both inside and outside the turkey. And of course I spread a generous amount of butter outside the turkey.
How to Cook a Turkey:
- 1 Turkey
- 1 White Onion, loosely chopped
- 5 sprigs of Rosemary
- 5 sprigs of Thyme
- 2 Lemons, loosely chopped
- 4 cloves of Garlic
- 2-3 tablespoons Butter, at room temperature
- Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- about 6 cups of Turkey Broth or Stock
- Aluminum Foil
- Butchers Twine
- a Roasting Pan
The night before cooking, make sure that the turkey has fully thawed. Unwrap the turkey from any packaging. Rinse the turkey and dry thoroughly. Place the turkey on a pan and leave in the fridge uncovered overnight. This will help the turkey to completely thaw, and to dry out which will make the skin crispier.
Do the math to see how long the turkey will need to cook. It takes 10-15 minutes per pound to cook, with farm fresh turkeys cooking faster. When I cooked a farm fresh turkey it took 9 minutes a pound, and when I have cooked store bought turkeys it has taken 12 minutes per pound.
Take the turkey out of the fridge an hour before you want to put it in the oven. Letting it come closer to room temperature helps it to cook more quickly.
Arrange an oven rack in your oven so that the turkey will fit. Heat your oven to 500 degrees.
Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. (If you don’t have a rack it can go directly on the pan). Fold the wing tips under the turkey breast. Use aluminum foil to over the ends of the drumsticks to prevent them from overcooking.
Season the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper, and then fill it with the white onion, 4 sprigs of rosemary, 4 sprigs of thyme, the lemon, and the garlic. Use butchers twine to tie the drumsticks together.
Generously spread butter all over the outside of the turkey, getting under the skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove the rosemary and thyme from the remaining sprigs and sprinkle over the turkey.
Place the turkey in the oven and pour some turkey broth in the bottom of the pan, this helps to prevent the pan drippings from burning.
After 30 minutes, take the turkey out of the oven, baste it with the pan drippings, and add more broth to the bottom of the pan if necessary. Protecting the pan drippings from burning will allow you to make gravy from the drippings.
Check to see how quickly the turkey is browning, and tent with foil if necessary. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Return the turkey to the oven.
I don’t like to baste too often. Once an hour is enough. When you baste you should also be rotating the turkey when you put it back in the oven to help it cook evenly. Also add broth to the bottom of the pan as needed.
An hour before you think that the turkey will be done cooking, check the temperature by placing a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. Sometimes turkeys cook faster than you will think, and this is a good time to check to see how things are going. It’s also a good time to put side dishes in the oven along with the turkey.
The turkey is done once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. You want to check the temperature of the thickest part of the inner thigh below the breast.
Place the turkey on a platter and tent with foil to keep it hot. I think that the best way to do this is to place a couple of layers of foil down on the platter and to put the turkey on top and to completely wrap it up.
Let the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Use this time to make gravy from the pan drippings. You can find those instructions below.
Cooking time varies based on the size of the turkey. Pair with gravy made from pan drippings.