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How to Roast a Turkey

How to Roast a Turkey

This recipe works well for any size turkey. Cook time will depend on the size of the turkey. Please see the directions below on how to determine the cooking time for your turkey.
  • Prep Time 30 minutes


  • 1 turkey
  • Kosher salt for washing the turkey, plus additional for seasoning
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus additional for the butter
  • 2 lemons, cut in half lengthwise
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable), or an even blend of apple juice and water
  • 2 sticks butter, melted, with some crumbled fresh thyme in it
  • Deep pan for roasting
  • Rack to fit inside pan
  • Thermometer
  • Basting brush or baster


  1. Heat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Take turkey out of the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter for an hour to come to room temperature. Remove the giblets (you can save them to flavor your stock, if you wish, but discard the liver if you do save them). Wash it thoroughly inside, and out, using handfuls of Kosher salt to rub the skin well while holding the turkey under cold running water; this will completely remove any odor from your bird.
  3. Dry well with paper towels and place the turkey breast side up on the rack inside the pan. (You will be cooking only the turkey in the oven, so make sure you plan to cook your other dishes with this in mind).
  4. Inside the oven, put the rack one slot up from the bottom, in the lower third.
  5. When you are ready to roast your turkey, rub salt and pepper inside and out and put the thyme and lemon halves into the cavity.
  6. Pour half of the stock into the bottom of the pan and put the turkey into the oven, uncovered. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 13 minutes per pound. Begin basting your bird two hours before the end of the cooking time, basting every half hour (to calculate the cooking time, multiply the number 13 by the number of pounds your turkey weighs (we say they are 14-16lbs, but your actual turkey may weigh more), and then divide that number by 60 to get the number of hours to cook your bird.) When basting, remember to remove the turkey from the oven​, close the door,​ and baste it on the stove top; you don’t want the oven to cool while you are basting.)
  7. You should also take the temperature of the turkey every time you baste.
  8. A fully cooked bird will register 165 degrees at the meatiest part of the outer thigh (near the body – do not insert thermometer near the bone) and in the breast. If the breast reaches 165 degrees before the thighs, tent foil over the breast while the turkey continues to roast, and continue basting and checking the thigh temperature every 20 minutes.
  9. For the final basting, remove the foil from the breast and baste the turkey all over with the melted butter/thyme mixture. Roast until the turkey reaches 165 degrees and remove from the oven.
  10. Inside the pan, tilt the turkey to pour all the juices from the cavity into the pan, and then transfer the rack with turkey to a cutting board, ideally one with a trench that can catch any additional juices. Rest an hour to redistribute the juices. Pour pan juices into a large bowl, let stand until the fat separates and rises to the top, and then skim fat to remove as much as possible.
  11. Note: cook your stuffing separately from the turkey; you will avoid overcooking the turkey in order to cook the stuffing, and avoid contaminating the stuffing with uncooked turkey juices.


Make your gravy:

  1. 2 ½ cups turkey drippings drained of as much fat as possible (if you need more liquid to make 2 ½ cups, add the apple juice blend or additional broth to come up to measurement)
  2. ½ cup flour
  3. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  4. Return the defatted pan drippings to the roasting pan and heat the liquid to a simmer. Working with a tablespoon at a time, remove drippings to a small bowl with the flour and whisk until smooth, adding enough liquid so that the blended flour is rich and smooth. Return the flour mixture to roasting pan and whisk the gravy constantly until thickened. Season to taste and serve with sliced turkey and stuffing.
chef lydia demonstrates her cooking skills
The Chef
DeBragga's Corporate Chef - Lydia Liebchen