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Easy Roast Turkey

Explore: Turkey Christmas Thanksgiving Dinner Party Healthy Lemons Celery Onions Holidays Poultry Main Dish Easy


Complicated techniques and a ton of ingredients can only make Thanksgiving dinner incredibly stressful. This recipe makes your life a heck of a lot easier, thanks to a straightforward cooking method and only a handful of high-flavor ingredients. When the bird’s done roasting, save the neck in the bottom of the roasting pan and the vegetables from inside the cavity to make our delicious Easy Turkey Gravy. If you’re starting with a frozen turkey, make sure it’s fully (and safely) defrosted by allowing it to come back to life slowly in the fridge for 3 to 4 days before you plan to roast it.

Have a bunch of leftovers? Use it for some Turkey Hash. Or use the carcass to make some turkey broth.

Special equipment: For this recipe you will need a large roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack, a brush or turkey baster, and a meat thermometer.

This recipe was featured in our Thanksgiving for Beginners menu.

For more holiday inspiration, check out our Fried Turkey with Southern Rub, BBQ Turkey, and Easy Brined Turkey with Cream Gravy.


  • 1 (12- to 15-pound) natural turkey
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 celery stick, cut into 3 pieces


  1. 1The night before you roast the turkey, remove the contents from the cavity. Discard the giblets (heart, liver, and gizzard) and reserve the neck. Rub the turkey all over with several generous pinches of salt, including a few under the skin covering the breast. Place the turkey in a dish or on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the next day.
  2. 2Heat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the lower third.
  3. 3Pat the turkey dry inside and out with paper towels and tuck the wing tips back and underneath. Rub a generous amount of vegetable oil inside the cavity and all over the outside. Season well with salt and pepper, including inside the cavity and under the skin.
  4. 4Break the butter into little chunks and place them under the skin covering the breast. Put the lemon, onion, and celery inside the cavity.
  5. 5Place the turkey, breast down, on a roasting rack set in a roasting pan and put the reserved neck in the bottom of the pan. Roast for 45 minutes, basting the turkey every 20 minutes once the pan juices accumulate.
  6. 6After 45 minutes, flip the turkey onto its back and continue to baste and roast for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  7. 7When a meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh registers 170°F and the juices run clear, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest 20 to 30 minutes before carving. If you’re planning on making your own gravy (see recipe link in intro), be sure to reserve the neck in the bottom of the roasting pan and the vegetables from inside the bird’s cavity.

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