roast turkey

roast turkey with gravy

dinner holidays main course meat recipes

This is a fool proof roast turkey with gravy recipe that will get you a juicy and flavorful turkey with perfectly browned skin every time.  Roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving can really be stress free if you can melt butter, use a cooking thermometer, and patiently wait for the bird to rest.  Save all the fuss for your side dishes and dessert!

Most of the tips that I learned for making this turkey came from:

  1. My mother:  who makes the juiciest turkeys every year
  2. Alex Guarnaschelli:  the cheesecloth soaked in butter has changed my life
  3. My experiences with making roast chickens:  herbs I like to use, cooking times, etc.

I don’t brine my bird simply because my mother never did, and her turkey is delicious.  This turkey recipe stays super juicy because of the butter soaked cheese cloth that covers the bird for about half of the roasting time, and the adequate amount of resting time after it cooks.  

If you are aware of my kitchen situation, (small apartment kitchen) I have to be choosy with what large cookware I keep on hand.  I currently don’t own a roasting rack, and I still don’t feel like I need to buy one.  This turkey recipe, along with all of my roast chicken recipes, doesn’t require a roasting rack.  Who needs a roasting rack when you can just add flavor?  The turkey sits on top of hearty vegetables that will soak up drippings from the bird as it roasts.  Now you have a juicy turkey AND a side dish!

How to Make Roast Turkey

If you purchased a frozen turkey, give yourself enough time to thaw it in the refrigerator, (still in its packaging) in advance:  1 day of thawing for every 5 lbs of turkey.  If you forget, or buy your turkey last minute, you can safely thaw your turkey in a cold water bath.  Keep the turkey in its packaging, and completely submerge in very cold water for 30 minutes per pound.  Be sure to change the water every 30 minutes to ensure the water is still very cold.

Set up as much as you can before you even touch the turkey.  This will save a lot of time washing your hands and disinfecting.  Preheat the oven and start getting your roasting pan ready.  Prepare the veggies and arrange them in the bottom.  Melt the butter, prep the herbs, chop the veggies, fix the lemon and garlic, cut the cheese cloth, and snip a piece of butcher’s twine.  

Now, you’re ready to prep the turkey.  Get your bird patted dry and dressed up and place it on a rack in the oven.  Check on the turkey and baste every half hour.  During the last hour of cooking, rotate the turkey, remove the cheese cloth, and keep basting every half hour.

When you’re done rotating the turkey, start making the gravy.  You want to simmer the turkey neck in some stock for a while to extract all of the flavor from it.

For me, the hardest part of making a turkey is exercising patience.  Once that bird is cooked, you need to wait at least 20 minutes for it to rest, or all those delicious juices are going to flow right out of the turkey, and you will be left with dry meat.

roast turkey with gravy

roast turkey with gravy

This classic roast turkey is perfectly seasoned, juicy, and has crispy skin.

course Main Dish
cuisine American
keyword dinner, fall, gravy, roast, Thanksgiving, turkey
prep time 45 minutes
cook time 3 hours
total time 3 hours 45 minutes
Author Christine

ingredients

turkey

  • 1 c unsalted butter
  • 15 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 T garlic powder
  • 1/2 T Adobo powder
  • 5 large carrots, cut in large pieces
  • 5 stalks celery, cut in large pieces
  • 3 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 feet of cheesecloth
  • butcher's twine
  • 10 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 12-15 lb turkey* (see notes below for frozen)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half

gravy

  • 6 c low sodium turkey or chicken stock, (plus more if needed)
  • 1 T Gravy Master
  • 3 T pancake mix, like Bisquick

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Start by preparing everything except the actual turkey.  Melt the butter.  Divide in half and place in two separate bowls and set aside.  Remove the leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme, and roughly chop.  Add the chopped thyme, 1 T Kosher salt, 1 t freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, and Adobo to one of the bowls of butter.  Set both bowls of butter aside.  Arrange the carrots, celery, and quartered onions in the bottom of a roasting pan.
  2. Cut 1 foot by 1 foot of cheese cloth.  Place the remaining sprigs of thyme and rosemary inside, roll into a bundle, and tie with a piece of butcher's twine.  Cut another piece of butcher's twine for later, to tie the legs of the turkey together.  Set the bundle and extra piece of butcher's twine aside.
  3. Take the turkey out of its packaging and remove the neck and giblets.  If you are using the giblets for later, set them aside or in the refrigerator.  If not, you can throw them away.  Place turkey neck in the refrigerator until you start preparing the gravy.  Lay turkey on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.  Pat the turkey dry on the inside and outside with paper towels, and then generously salt the inside and outside of the turkey.  Take the butter with herbs and seasoning and spread the butter between the skin and meat of the turkey.
  4. Soak the rest of the cheesecloth in the remaining melted butter and place on top of the turkey breast. Stuff the herb bundle, garlic, and lemon inside the turkey. Tie the bottoms of the legs together with the butcher’s twine.
  5. Place the turkey in the oven on a rack positioned at the lower third of the oven, (so that the turkey is sitting right in the middle.) Roast for 90 minutes, basting every 30 minutes. Turn the turkey 180 degrees, remove the cheesecloth, and roast for another 60 minutes, still basting every 30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees.
  6. Loosely tent turkey with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
  7. for the gravy
  8. While the turkey is cooking in the oven, start your gravy. In a large pot, place the turkey neck, and pour in the turkey or chickens tock. Bring the stock to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.
  9. When the turkey is done cooking, and resting on the cutting board, transfer all roasted vegetables to a serving dish with a slotted spoon. With a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the roasting pan to release any of the brown bits. If some bits are stuck, place the roasting pan over low heat, and ladle in some hot stock to loosen them up. Pour juices into pot with the chicken stock.
  10. Ladle about 1 cup of the gravy into a small bowl. Whisk in pancake mix until completely dissolved and there are no lumps. Add the pancake mix mixture and gravy master to the gravy pot with a whisk. Remove from heat and strain. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

recipe notes

If you purchased a frozen turkey, give yourself enough time to thaw it in the refrigerator, (still in its packaging) in advance:  1 day of thawing for every 5 lbs of turkey.  If you forget, or buy your turkey last minute, you can safely thaw your turkey in a cold water bath.  Keep the turkey in its packaging, and completely submerge in very cold water for 30 minutes per pound.  Be sure to change the water every 30 minutes to ensure the water is still very cold.