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.
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.
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