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This roast turkey recipe will be the star of your Thanksgiving dinner! It’s juicy and flavorful, with an aromatic combination of garlic, herbs, and lemon.

close up image of roasted turkey served on a white oval plate

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Turkey is a Thanksgiving staple, but how you make that turkey? Well, that’s the wild card! 

You can cook turkey stuffed with sausage stuffing or unstuffed; you can make it in the oven or deep fry it. Or you can roast it at a higher temperature with fresh herbs, lemon, and garlic and enjoy the most flavorful Thanksgiving turkey you’ve ever had!

Roast turkey is a succulent and delicious dish that is perfect for any Thanksgiving feast. The turkey is perfectly seasoned and filled with all kinds of good stuff—the aforementioned herbs, lemon, and garlic, along with carrots and onions. The high temperature at the beginning of the cooking time ensures that the turkey is golden brown and perfect, but still juicy and tender like it should be.

top down image of roasted turkey served on an oval plate with a side of gravy

Perfect Roast Turkey Recipe

This roast turkey is the perfect centerpiece for a classic Thanksgiving dinner with your favorite mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, and green bean casserole. (Oh, and don’t forget to use the drippings to make turkey gravy!) And I guarantee everyone will want to have seconds!

Stuffing the bird with aromatics infuses every bite with flavor. If you’re used to cooking your roast turkey with stuffing inside, you might hesitate to break with tradition and make your Thanksgiving turkey differently, but trust me—this recipe is worth it!

ingredients to make roasted turkey

Ingredients

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Whole turkey — Remove the neck and giblets.
  • Onion — Use a yellow or white onion here.
  • Carrots
  • Lemon
  • Garlic – You can add more if you prefer a more prominent garlic flavor.
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Unsalted butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, go lighter on the salt when seasoning the turkey.
  • Chicken stock
  • Kosher salt & black pepper
steps to make roasted turkey

How to Make Roast Turkey

  1. Prepare: Preheat the oven to 450ºF and dry the turkey with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, then fill it with the onions, carrots, lemons, garlic, and herbs. Tuck the wings under the bird, then place it into a pan on a roasting rack and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. 
  2. Season the outside: Brush the turkey with the melted butter and season the outside with salt and pepper. Pour the chicken stock into the roasting pan.
  3. Cook: Roast at 450ºF for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350ºF and continue to cook for 3 to 4 hours, or until an instant read meat thermometer reads 160ºF.
  4. Cool: Remove the roast turkey from the oven and tent it with foil. Let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving and serving. 
plate of two roasted turkey servings, carrots, green beans and mashed potatoes on the side all served on a white round plate

Quick Tip

The turkey will continue to cook from the residual heat as it rests. This will bring the turkey to a safe internal temperature of 165ºF; the rest time also makes sure the juices don’t all run off when you carve the turkey!

How to Store Leftover Roast Turkey

The best way to store leftover roast turkey is in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it, but make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in a freezer bag or airtight container. It will keep for up to three months in the freezer. 

When you’re ready to reheat your leftover turkey, place it in an oven-safe dish and bake at 350ºF until heated through. You can also microwave it, but the oven is best.

FAQs

How do you keep turkey slices moist?

There are a few things you can do to help turkey slices retain their moisture. First, be sure that you don’t overcook your turkey. Make sure the inner temperature reaches 160ºF and no more. You can also brine the turkey beforehand by soaking it in a saltwater solution for about 12 hours. And of course, make sure to serve the turkey with cranberry sauce or turkey gravy to help keep it moist!

How long does a turkey need to be cooked in an oven for?

A turkey needs to be cooked in an oven for anywhere from 3-5 hours, depending on its size. 

Does a stuffed turkey take longer to cook than unstuffed?

Yes, a stuffed turkey will take longer to cook than an unstuffed roast turkey. The stuffing adds moisture and density to the bird, which means that it takes longer for the heat to penetrate all the way through. For a 12-pound turkey, you’ll need about 4 hours of cook time if it’s stuffed, versus only about 2 hours and 45 minutes if it’s unstuffed.

How do you moisten leftover turkey?

There are a few ways to moisten leftover roast turkey. One is to reheat it in an oven-safe dish and bake at 350ºF until heated through. Another way to add moisture is to revive it with broth or stock. Simply heat the broth in a saucepan, then pour it over the sliced turkey and let it soak in for a few minutes.

More Thanksgiving Favorites

Roast Turkey

This roast turkey recipe will be the star of your Thanksgiving dinner! It's juicy and flavorful, with an aromatic combination of garlic, herbs, and lemon.
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Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Kasey Schwartz
Servings: 8 – 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients  

  • 1 12-15 pound turkey, neck & giblets removed
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, whole, halved horizontally
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 5 sprigs rosemary
  • 5 sprigs sage
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt & black pepper

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Heavily season the cavity with salt and pepper and fill with the onions, carrots, lemons, garlic, and herbs. Tuck the wings under the bird, place into a roasting pan on a rack, and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
  • Brush the turkey with the melted butter and season the bird with salt & pepper. Pour the chicken stock into the roasting pan.
  • Roast at 450F for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350F and continue to cook for 3-4 hours or until an instant read thermometer reads 160F. The turkey will continue to cook and bring the temp to 165F.
  • Remove from the oven and lightly cover with foil to rest for 15-20 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 907kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 156g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 488mg | Sodium: 902mg | Potassium: 1781mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3174IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 6mg
Keyword: roast turkey, turkey
Did you make this recipe?Mention @kasey_allthingsmamma or tag #allthingsmamma!

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About Kasey Schwartz

Hi, I’m Kasey, Founder of All Things Mamma – where I am dishing up family favorite recipes that are easy to make with simple, everyday ingredients. Plus – tips and tricks for living your best life!

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