Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving - It's not as difficult as you think!
Dinner - Food - Holidays - How To - Turkey

Roast Turkey

Last updated on November 9, 2020 by Liza Hawkins

Nervous about making a roast turkey? Don’t worry — you’ve got this! I’ve made a roast turkey every year for the past I don’t even know how many years.

Even if I’m not cooking the bird on the main day, I still find time to roast my own sometime during the week of Thanksgiving.

We often have to split up the holiday based upon who’s able to make it to Maryland on the Thanksgiving, or a few days later instead.

Roast turkey with crispy skin for Thanksgiving.

So, inevitably, we have TWO turkey days among both sides of the family. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s actually fun to spread the holidays out.

When we lived in Maryland on my parents’ property, we were lucky to have use of our kitchen in the house, the kitchen in the log cabin (it’s modern, even though the original cabin is circa 1700s) and their main house space — all within about a hundred feet of each other.

It was a dream setup for large dinner gatherings that require lots of prep, knowing that we had three ovens and ample stove top options. Even with all that space, though, we found it’s helpful to dole out the sides potluck-style to help break up the cooking work.

Think things like mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, sweet potato casserole, oyster casserole, pumpkin pie — the list goes on and on…

Note: Going with a potluck approach is definitely a winner when you only have one kitchen and the guest list is long. Better than one crazed Thanksgiving day cook who’s trying to pull together dinner for fourteen with one oven, three working stove top burners (there are actually four burners, but one’s always too messy under the element to actually use — that’s not just me, right?), limited fridge space, and barely enough time.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links.

Tablescape with sides and dishes for a large meal.


Roast Turkey

Back to the turkey.

I don’t do anything special for my roast turkey, though one day I swear I’ll spatchcock.

No crazy injections, no brine (though I’m certainly not opposed to brining!), no cheesecloth, AND — since I always forget to buy it — no kitchen twine to tie the legs together.

I’m of the mindset that the simpler the better, otherwise it can create added chaos to a holiday that already has mayhem potential.

I’d prefer to enjoy a glass of wine, laugh with my family, and leisurely prepare Thanksgiving dinner, thank-you-very-much.

Here are some kitchen tools I use to make roast turkey:

Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving - it's so easy!!!
Yield: 6 to 8

Roast Turkey

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours

This roast turkey is really easy to make!


  • 1 15-pound turkey (larger or smaller as needed)
  • 1 recipe salted sage & pepper butter
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 1 head of fresh garlic, halved
  • 1 bundle of fresh parsley and sage (stems are fine; nothing fancy)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
  2. Remove the neck, giblets, and anything else from the turkey cavity. Save them for gravy, or for making turkey stock later. Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel.
  3. Set the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. Tuck the wings underneath. Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the pan (this helps keep it from smoking as drippings fall, and makes a nice base for gravy).
  4. Stuff the inside of the turkey with the onions, garlic and herbs.
  5. Gently lift the skin from both sides of the turkey breast — don't rip it! — to create pockets. Slather half the salted sage & pepper butter on either side, in the pockets you made.
  6. Pour the olive oil on top of the turkey, sprinkle it with salt, and use your hands to rub it in so that the bird is coated evenly.
  7. Place the turkey in the oven for 20 minutes (high temp = crispy skin), then reduce the heat to 325°F, and continue roasting the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, or until the temperature reaches 170°F in the deepest part of the thigh.
  8. Pull the turkey out of the oven, and let it rest for 30 minutes. The temperature will rise another 10 degrees while it's sitting — you're looking for 180°F in the thigh.
  9. Carve the turkey and enjoy (and save the carcass for stock)!


I use an oven safe digital thermometer that stays in while the turkey is cooking. It makes life SO much easier! If your turkey has a pop up timer built in, ignore it.

If you notice that the legs or the breast are browning too fast, loosely cover them with foil after an hour or two.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1701Total Fat: 71gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 47gCholesterol: 931mgSodium: 1683mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 244g

Hi, I'm Liza — a self-proclaimed word-nerd who loves getting lost in whimsical stories and epic movies. I have laid-back, practical attitude towards life and am always on the hunt for good eats, easy recipes, binge-worthy shows, relaxing road trip destinations, the perfect fizzy gin cocktail, and time to finish my novel!

One comment on “Roast Turkey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.