Rating: 5 stars
9 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 9
  • 4 star values: 0
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0

This easy method produces all the good looks and moist flavor you dream of in an oven-roasted turkey. Make sure you show this beauty off at the table before you carve it. Garnish your serving platter with fresh herb sprigs and citrus wedges for a showstopping Thanksgiving turkey.

EatingWell Magazine, October/November 2006; updated November 2022

Gallery

Read the full recipe after the video.
Advertisement

Tips for the Best Oven-Roasted Turkey

Let this oven-roasted turkey recipe featuring aromatics and lots of fresh herbs fill your kitchen with the aroma of Thanksgiving. This no-fuss method delivers a perfectly cooked turkey that you'll be proud to share with friends and family. Here are a few tips to help you make your best oven-roasted turkey:

What You'll Need

This easy recipe requires minimal equipment. You'll need a large roasting pan, a roasting rack, kitchen string and an instant-read thermometer. Since you'll be taking the turkey in and out of a hot oven a few times, avoid disposable aluminum pans and opt for a sturdy roasting pan with handles instead. A good roasting pan is not only easier to handle, but it's better at collecting the fond—the key ingredient to making a good gravy once the turkey is finished roasting.

Turkey Prep Essentials

If your turkey was frozen, you will want to make sure that it is completely thawed before it hits the oven. (Check out our guide on how to thaw a turkey here.) Most turkeys will have the neck and giblets stuffed into the cavity. You will want to remove them before you roast. You can discard the neck and giblets, or save them to make stock and gravy. Note: Thawing the turkey and using the neck and giblets for gravy takes some advanced planning, so this step is best addressed a few days ahead.

Add Flavor

We rely on fresh chopped herbs and a few aromatics to flavor the bird. We combine the chopped fresh herbs that we slather on the skin with canola oil instead of butter to cut down on saturated fat. The oil helps to crisp up the skin, but also remember to rub some of that herb mixture under the skin as well. This flavors the meat itself, so if the skin is taken off, you'll still have flavor underneath. You'll want to place more herbs and a few aromatics (think onion, apple, lemon and/or orange), cut into 2-inch pieces, into the cavity. You should not have more than 1 1/2 cups. If you cram too much stuff into the cavity, the turkey may not cook evenly. After you're done filling the cavity, tuck the wing tips underneath the bird and tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string. This step keeps the bird compact and prevents smaller pieces like wing tips and leg meat from burning.

Roasting the Turkey

You'll begin roasting the turkey in a pretty hot oven—450°F. This jump-starts the cooking process and lays the foundation for beautiful golden brown skin. To prevent the pan drippings from burning and to help keep the meat moist, we fill the bottom of the roasting rack with 3 cups of water. After 45 minutes, carefully remove the turkey from the oven and turn the temperature down to 350°F. Lower temperatures are better for finishing the bird, as it cooks the meat more evenly. Even with temperature adjustments, cooking a turkey without drying it out in parts requires some handiwork. Before the turkey returns to the oven, we cover the breast with a double layer of foil. The breast meat is the most exposed in the oven, so this step helps slow the cooking process so the breast is finished with the rest of the meat without overcooking. When is the turkey done? When an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F. This should take 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours more. If the pan dries out at any point, tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan and add 1 cup water.

Let It Rest

It may look perfect the second it's done, but it's best to let the bird stand out of the oven for about 20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute into the meat, helping to keep it moist. You can cover it with foil to keep some of the heat in, but even after 20 minutes, it will still be plenty hot. Don't forget to remove the string before carving! (Check out our guide on how to carve a turkey like a pro here.)

Can I Roast Turkey with Stuffing Inside?

We know plenty of people do, but we don't recommend it. Stuffing the cavity full of anything increases the cooking time. Waiting for the center of the stuffing to reach a safe internal temperature of 165°F, you risk overcooking the meat. It's best to fill the cavity loosely with aromatics, as we do here, and enjoy the stuffing cooked on the side or in the slow cooker.

Additional reporting by Hilary Meyer 

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 475 degrees F.

    Advertisement
  • Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities and reserve for making gravy. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan; pat dry with paper towels. Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place aromatics and 10 of the herb sprigs in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups water and the remaining 10 herb sprigs to the pan.

  • Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown, 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cover the breast with a double layer of foil, cutting as necessary to conform to the breast. 

  • Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours more. If the pan dries out, tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan and add 1 cup water. 

  • Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and cover with foil. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Remove string and carve.

Nutrition Facts

3 ounces
172 calories; protein 25g; fat 7g; saturated fat 2g; cholesterol 88mg; vitamin a iu 27IU; vitamin c 0.3mg; folate 8mcg; calcium 13mg; iron 1mg; magnesium 27mg; potassium 210mg; sodium 320mg.

3 1/2 lean meat

Advertisement