Fool Proof Oven Roasted Turkey

Fool Proof Oven Roasted Turkey

If you’re reading this Fool-Proof Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe, chances are you’re in charge of a holiday meal. If so, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got the perfect, fool-proof recipe that’ll give you a delicious, crisp-on-the outside-tender-on-the-inside perfectly roasted turkey with minimal fuss and stress. All you have to do is pre-salt the turkey 2 days in advance, roast for about 4 hours, and baste twice with warmed butter to get a deeply golden brown bird with crispy- crackling skin and the juiciest meat you’ve ever tasted.

I’ve been making roast turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas for more years than I can count. I’ve tried a lot of different recipes and techniques but this is the one I’ve settled on for good. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed and you don’t want to spend the day frantic and stressed out in the kitchen. Been there done that! This is not the time to experiment with that complicated recipe you saw on the Internet or in a gourmet magazine. You’ll be doing well to get everything ready at once and served at something close to room temperature. 

That’s why we’ve developed the motto KISS for our holiday cooking. Keep It Simple Stupid! You don’t need to wet brine your bird in a vat of fussy ingredients that won’t fit in your fridge, or pull back the skin to insert herbed butter, or inject brine or any of that stuff. All you need to do is pre-salt the turkey and baste it twice in melted butter, and your guests will be beyond impressed.

How to Make a Delicious, Fool Proof Oven Roasted Turkey

(Note: We recommend you buy a turkey around 16-18 lbs. and that’s what this recipe assumes. This size turkey will feed 6 people easily and even if you won’t be that many, leftovers are a wonderful thing to have in the refrigerator!)

Step 1: Dry Brine the Turkey 48 Hours Before Serving

(If you’re cooking on Thanksgiving, this means you’ll do this on Tuesday).

How to do it

  • Two days before you plan to cook, take the bird out of its wrapping and remove the gizzard, liver and neck.
  • Rinse well with cold water making sure to include the cavity. Pat dry.
  • Measure out your Diamond Crystal Kosher salt in a small bowl. You should use about 1 tsp. per pound of turkey. For this size bird you’ll need at least 5 tbsp. of salt. Yes, we know it sounds like a lot, but TRUST US.
  • Place in a plastic bag (they sell them specifically for this purpose around holiday time) or wrap in plastic. Place on a rimmed baking sheet or in the roasting pan in the refrigerator.

What You’ll Need

Step 2: Remove the Plastic Bag 24 Hours Before Serving (aka the day/night before Thanksgiving)

How to do it

  • Remove the turkey from the plastic bag or wrap. Pat dry using paper towels to remove all excess moisture.
  • Place it back on the rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, at least 8 hours.

Step 3: Prep the Turkey for Roasting (aka Thanksgiving morning)

How to do it

  • Take turkey out of fridge and allow 1 hour for it to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
  • Place rack in lowest part of oven.
  • Sprinkle the pepper and other (optional) dried spices over the bird.
  • Using a basting brush, brush the melted butter all over the bird, getting all nooks and crannies. 
  • Put about a cup of chicken broth in the bottom of your roasting pan.
  • Place turkey in oven.

What You’ll Need

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. pepper
  • Dried thyme, sage, rosemary (optional)
  • Chicken broth
  • Basting Brush. This is our favorite one.
  • Roasting Pan with rack. This allows the turkey to sit on the rack, allowing the drippings to fall to the bottom of the pan, which you will use to form the most delicious gravy.

Step 4: Baste the Turkey Again After 2 Hours

How to do it

  • After 2 hours, take the turkey out and baste it again with 4 more tablespoons of butter.
  • Add about another cup of broth to the pan. Return to oven.

Step 5. Check the Temperature After 3 Hours

How to do it

  • After 3 hours, you’ll need to check the internal temperature of the turkey. Most chefs recommend inserting a digital thermometer into the thigh of the bird. Our ThermoWorks digital thermometer is the best. Gives you an instant, accurate read on your temperature. Once the temperature hits 165 degrees at the deepest part of the thigh, the bird is ready to come out. We’ve found that for a 16 lb. turkey, 4 hours is about the right time. But ovens vary, and taking an accurate temperature is crucial!

What You’ll Need

Step 6: Let Turkey Rest & Make the Gravy

How to do it

  • Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and set aside to rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the roasting pan with the drippings on two burners of the stove over medium-low heat.
  • Add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour.
  • Stir the pan, scraping up all the browned bits at the bottom.
  • Starting with one cup of chicken stock, stir in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add ½ cup more of stock and continue simmering for 5 more minutes.
  • Repeat this process at least one more time until you have the consistency and amount of gravy you want.
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your taste. You shouldn’t need much, the flavor should be perfect as is.
  • Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

What You’ll Need

Tips for Making Fool Proof Oven Roasted Turkey

If you don’t have 48 hours to dry brine, don’t panic. Even an overnight brining uncovered in the fridge will help dry out and crisp the skin and intensify the flavor of your turkey.

If you’re in a pinch, you can use a frozen turkey, just make sure it’s fully thawed before you apply the dry brine. If you are starting with a frozen turkey make sure to give yourself enough time to fully thaw the bird before brining. For every 5 pounds give 24 hours of thaw time in your refrigerator. **An example would be that a 15-pound bird would take 3 days (72 hours).You can thaw a frozen turkey in cold running water (left in wrapping). It will take about 24 hours that way and is not my suggested method for thawing but is something you can do if needed.

With a dry brine, you can mix the salt with chopped fresh or dried spices like sage, thyme and rosemary, but it’s not necessary. If you do, rub it into the meat, cavity and skin and you’re done.

Don’t buy a pre-seasoned, pre-salted turkey or self-basting turkey. I always look for a fresh, organic bird.  You may have to order one in advance, so be sure to check with your local store. But most importantly no added salt.

While the turkey is cooking, there should always be a small amount of broth in the bottom of the roasting pan. Feel free to peek about once an hour to make sure the pan has not dried out. If it has, add a half to full cup of chicken broth. This will be the base for your gravy!