Last modified on November 6th, 2018 at 11:36 PM

Oven Roasted Turkey

Perfect oven roasted turkey for your Thanksgiving feast! Learn all about how to roast a turkey in the oven and get it to turn out perfect everytime.

Learn everything you need to know to make this Thanksgiving turkey perfect. How to season a turkey, to roast a turkey in the oven and how to tell when the turkey is done. #thanksgivingturkey #thanksgivingturkeyrecipes #turkeyrecipesoven #roastturkey #roastturkeyrecipes #longbournfarm #thanksgivingrecipes

I am over-the-moon excited for the holiday season because I love it so much. And I just can’t change who I am! Ha! If you have been following along here or on my socials for a while, you know my love of holidays runs deep. Like Christmas in July deep. The day I can start sharing holiday recipes with you is one of my favorite days! Let’s dive in, I’m going to divide this post up into sections so that it’s easier to read and understand. I know roasting your own turkey can seem daunting but it’s totally doable!

How to Season A Turkey

The best way to ensure that the turkey stays moist and holds all its natural flavor is to brine it. This simply means that you submerge the turkey in a concentrated salt solution for a few hours or overnight. This not only ensures that your turkey will stay moist, but it also allows all the flavors of your brine to really get into the meat.

I lay out all the details of brining in this post, What is Brining if you are interested in learning more. But don’t worry! I include all the brining ingredients and instructions in this post as well.

The next step to getting a perfectly seasoned turkey is actually to rinse it very thoroughly after you remove it from the brine. That removes excess salt so that your other seasonings can shine through. I like to keep the seasonings for my turkey simple and I season both the outside and inside of the turkey.

Turkey Seasonings: Outside

  • Unsalted butter {remember, we already added a lot of salt flavor with the brine!}
  • Sea salt {just a little bit on the outside, this actually helps the skin dry out and crisp up}
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh sage
  • Fresh parsley
  • Orange zest
  • Lemon zest

Turkey Seasonings: Inside

  • Quartered oranges
  • Quartered lemons
  • Whole garlic heads
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh sage
  • Fresh parsley

How to Roast a Turkey in the Oven

Next, you’ll need to make sure you have the right setup for roasting your turkey. I really think investing in a quality roasting pan and rack will make a world of difference here. Turkey’s are often just so large, it’s hard to roast them in anything other than a roasting pan. This is the roasting pan I have and it it does a fantastic job.

To set up your roasting pan, you’ll need a few more ingredients. I put some onions, carrots, and celery in the bottom of my roasting pan. This creates some great flavor as the turkey roasts and ensures you have some delicious gravy afterward. I add water, a cup at a time, as the turkey roasts. I always want the bottom of the pan to have liquid in it.

Turkey from the oven in the foil lined roasting rack.

Once your veggies are in the bottom, I actually like to line the roasting rack with foil, spray it with non-stick spray, and then poke some holes in it so the air can still flow and liquid can still drain. This just makes cleanup a lot easier.

Once you have your pan and your turkey set, it’s easy! The last tip I have for this section is to make sure you start roasting your turkey upside down and then flip it halfway through cooking. This makes sure each side is nice and browned.

How Long to Roast a Turkey

This is the magic question!! Obviously, the bigger the turkey the longer it will take to roast. A good rule of thumb is about 10 minutes per pound, so an 18-pound turkey would take about 3 hours. HOWEVER!!! This is all variable based on the oven temperature the recipe calls for and if the turkey is stuffed or unstuffed. Stuffed turkey’s take about an hour to an hour and a half longer to cook than unstuffed.

For this recipe, I use two oven temperatures so the roasting time is different than a recipe that just uses one oven temperature. I let my turkey go for 3/4 of the cooking time, check the temperature, and then give it about 30 minutes if it’s within 30 degrees of being done.

Which leads us to the next important question: What temperature is turkey done? This is actually a more complicated question than you may think! All poultry meat is safe to eat once it reaches 165 degrees F, but white meat does best when removed from the oven at 157 and allowed to come up to 165 out of the oven while resting. Meanwhile, dark meat breaks down a little better at around 185 degrees F, so it is best left a little hot.


I find that the dark meat and white meat usually reach these ideal temperatures at the same time, but really the best way to make sure they do is to spatchcock your turkey. I don’t love doing that, just because it isn’t the classic Thanksgiving presentation, but it’s a delicious method for sure. I usually monitor both the white and dark meat while cooking and pull the turkey out when both are close to ideal.

Thermapen next to a roasted turkey.

This post from Thermoworks is incredibly detailed and super helpful when determining meat cooking temperatures! I also use their Thermapen Mk4 Thermometer and love it. The ChefAlarm is on my list for this holiday season though! The thermometers with probes that stay in the oven really take all of the guesswork out for you. Their Smoke 2-Channel actually has two probes, which is perfect for cooking a turkey.

Oven Roasted Turkey

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Learn everything you need to know to make this Thanksgiving turkey perfect. How to season a turkey, to roast a turkey in the oven and how to tell when the turkey is done. #thanksgivingturkey #thanksgivingturkeyrecipes #turkeyrecipesoven #roastturkey #roastturkeyrecipes #longbournfarm #thanksgivingrecipes
5 from 1 vote

Oven Roasted Turkey

Perfect oven roasted turkey for your Thanksgiving feast! Learn all about how to roast a turkey in the oven and get it to turn out perfect everytime.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword how long to roast a turkey, how to roast a turkey in the oven, how to season a turkey, oven roasted turkey
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 15 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 people
Calories 1022 kcal
Author Alli


For the Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 2 cups salt kosher is fine
  • 1 head garlic topped trimmed off
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 1 oranges sliced
  • 1 lemons sliced
  • water enough to cover turkey

For the Turkey

  • 15 pound turkey 12-15 pounds (see note), remove everything from chest cavity and temperature indication probe.
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons parsley minced, fresh
  • 1 tablespoon thyme minced, fresh
  • 1 tablespoon sage minced, fresh
  • 1 orange zested and quartered
  • 1 lemon zested and quartered
  • 1 head garlic topped trimmed off
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 2 carros rough chop
  • 2 celery stalks rough chop
  • 2 onions quartered
  • 4 cups water divided

For the Pan Gravy

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth or vegetable


For the Brine

  1. Combine all the brine ingredients with only one gallon of water. 

  2. Bring to a boil and boil until all the salt is dissolved and flavors have melded about 8 minutes.

  3. Pour into brining container, I use a 5-gallon bucket, add the turkey, and pour in enough extra water to cover the turkey completely. 

  4. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, up to overnight. 

To Roast the Turkey

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

  2. Remove turkey from brine, rinse thoroughly and pat dry. 

  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, rubbing it onto all parts of the turkey. 

  4. Prepare the roasting pan by laying the carrots, celery, onions, and herb sprigs in the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup of the water. 

  5. Line the roasting rack in foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray, and poke 15-20 holes so that the air and liquid can still escape and circulate. Set aside.

  6. Mix butter, chopped herbs, and citrus zest together. Gently separate the skin from the meat and work the butter mixture up in between the skin and meat wherever you can. Remember to do the front and back of the turkey. 

  7. Place quartered orange and lemon along with the garlic head inside the cavity of the turkey. Tie the legs together with cooking twine. 

  8. Place the turkey breast side DOWN in the roasting pan. 

  9. Roast for 1 hour, and then carefully flip the turkey over, breast side UP. Baste with liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan. Add more if needed. 

  10. Continue roasting until the breast meat reads 157 degrees F and the thigh meat reaches 185 degrees F (see post for full details on these temps). About 45-60 more minutes, basting every 15 minutes and checking liquid in the bottom of the pan, adding more if necessary. 

  11. Remove from oven and let rest 30 minutes. 

For the Pan Gravy

  1. Remove the roasting rack and vegetables from the roasting pan, leaving any turkey drippings behind. 

  2. On the stovetop, heat the drippings and mix in the flour. 

  3. Cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. 

  4. Whisk in the broth until smooth. Adjust consistency with more broth to your preference. 

Recipe Notes

This recipe can easily accommodate a larger turkey. If your turkey is 20 pounds or larger, simply add 2 tablespoons of butter to the mixture and keep all other ingredients the same. 

A larger turkey will take longer to roast, about 10 minutes more per pound. As you check and baste, you will get a good idea for temperature and time. 

This recipe is not meant for a stuffed turkey. If you are stuffing your turkey, plan to lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and roast for much longer. 

Nutrition Facts
Oven Roasted Turkey
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1022 Calories from Fat 405
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 45g 69%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Cholesterol 488mg 163%
Sodium 1539mg 64%
Potassium 1592mg 45%
Total Carbohydrates 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 1g
Protein 140g 280%
Vitamin A 16%
Vitamin C 20.9%
Calcium 10.8%
Iron 34.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Learn everything you need to know to make this Thanksgiving turkey perfect. How to season a turkey, to roast a turkey in the oven and how to tell when the turkey is done. #thanksgivingturkey #thanksgivingturkeyrecipes #turkeyrecipesoven #roastturkey #roastturkeyrecipes #longbournfarm #thanksgivingrecipes

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    October 20, 2018 at 3:17 PM

    Turns out perfectly every single time!

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