Roasting a Turkey


1. Remove the bag of giblets from the small neck cavity of the thawed turkey, then remove the neck found in the body cavity.

2. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels (see Wash, Wash, Wash tip below). This cleans the bird, makes it easier to handle and helps the basting oil cling to the skin.

3. Season both cavities with salt and pepper (if you brined the turkey, do not season it with salt). You can also lightly season the cavities with your favorite herbs at this time. Sage, thyme, lemon zest and fresh garlic all work well.

4. Stuff the turkey if desired. Place a rack in the roasting pan, then "cradle" the turkey, breast side up, on the rack (see No-Stick Rack tip below).

5. Brush the turkey with vegetable oil, then season liberally with salt and pepper (do not season with salt if the turkey was brined).

6. Slide the roasting pan into a preheated oven. Rotate the pan every couple of hours to allow the bird to brown evenly.

7. After a couple hours of roasting, check the turkey for color. When it has turned a beautiful brown, loosely tent it with aluminum foil to inhibit browning (see Tent When Brown tip below).

8. Roasting for a specific amount of time is a good guideline to determine doneness (see Roasting Chart below). But for optimal accuracy, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.   

Roasting Chart

Turkey Weight   Unstuffed              Stuffed

8 to 12 lb.         2¾ to 3 hours      3 to 3½ hours

12 to 14 lb.       3 to 3¾ hours      3½ to 4 hours

14 to 18 lb.       3¾ to 4¼ hours   4 to 4¼ hours

18 to 20 lb.       4¼ to 4½ hours   4¼ to 4¾ hours

20 to 24 lb.       4½ to 5 hours      4¾ to 5¼ hours   

Note: Times above assume a 325°F oven temperature and are approximate based on recommendations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.  


Prep Tips

  • No-Stick Rack. Coat the roasting rack with nonstick spray to prevent the skin from clinging during roasting. Even if the rack is nonstick, spray it anyway. The long roasting time can "fuse" the turkey to the rack, making it difficult to separate the two from each other.
  • Wash, Wash, Wash. When handling turkey or any type of poultry, always wash your hands, equipment, countertops and sink often with hot, soapy water.

Roasting Tips

  • Tent When Brown. After 2 to 2½ hours of roasting, tent the turkey with foil when skin starts to brown. This helps prevent the white meat from drying out and keeps the bird from turning too dark.
  • Resting. After roasting and before carving, the turkey should rest. During roasting, juices concentrate at the center of the meat, but as the bird rests, the juices flow back through the meat, making it juicier and more flavorful. The turkey can rest for up to an hour and still stay warm, which gives you plenty of time to cook the side dishes and make gravy.

Enjoy this article? Learn more at Campbell’s Kitchen.

Article provided by Campbells

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