Easy Thanksgiving Turkey

4.97 from 28 votes

If you're looking for a fail-proof turkey roasting method, try this Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe for a perfectly cooked bird with no fuss!

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If you’ve never roasted a turkey before, and you just need something simple and reliable, this easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe is for you. There’s not a lot of complicated steps or processes to follow. It’s the most straightforward and to-the-point turkey recipe you’ll find that’s perfect if it’s your first turkey or 20th one! This recipe is great for beginners and first-timers, but comes out great every time!

Final easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe on a serving plate

ingredients for turkey recipe

  • Turkey: Buy the best quality turkey you can. Remove the neck and giblets and truss it before stuffing and seasoning it. Opt for a turkey about 15 pounds in size that works best for this cooking technique.
  • Onion, celery and carrot: These chopped vegetables are placed inside the cavity. These help to add flavor and also keep the turkey moist as they steam. Other vegetables you can use are squashes or peppers.
  • Seasonings & Herbs: Salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and sage.
  • Butter: Melted butter is brushed over the skin of the turkey as well as between the skin and the meat. This helps to get a nice browned and crispy skin as well as keeping the turkey nice and juicy. If you prefer not to use butter, try using avocado oil.
Ingredients to make the recipe

how to Make Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

  1. First, remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey. Don’t toss these as you can store them in the fridge or freezer to make gravy or broth at a later time. There’s no need to wash the turkey, brine it or anything.
  2. Second, use a paper towel to pat dry the turkey to remove any excess moisture. This allows the herbed butter to better adhere to the skin and creates a more crispy skin after roasting.
  3. Third, stuff the onions, carrots and celery inside the turkey crevice. This creates so much flavor within the turkey. You can leave them whole or chop them up roughly. You can also stuff a couple lemons wedges if you’d like.
  4. Fourth, tuck the wings of the turkey underneath the bird. This prevents them from sticking out higher than the rest of the turkey and potentially burning in the oven before the turkey is fully cooked. Take this time to also tie the legs together with twine or dental floss so they stay put and the vegetables inside the crevice don’t come out while roasting. This also helps to cook it evenly so it doesn’t become lopsided in the oven.
  5. Fifth, it’s time to season and flavor the turkey. Generously add salt and pepper all over the turkey, making sure to get underneath the bird and all around it. Next, melt the butter in a pan and cook the herbs with the butter until softened and fragrant. You’ll want to brush the butter all over the turkey and stuff the herbs inside the turkey.
  6. Finally, use your hands to rub the turkey inside and outside with the herbed butter. This is the secret to getting that perfect golden crust on the turkey. Be sure to lift some of the skin above the breast and rub the herbed butter underneath.
6 image collage to show the easy steps for cooking turkey

Now it’s time to cook it in the preheated oven. The rule of thumb is 15 minutes for every 1 pound, but always double check by using a thermometer in the middle of the thighs. It should register at 170ºF or 175ºF degrees. 

When the turkey is fully cooked as measured by the thermometer, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest at room temperature. You’ll want to let the turkey rest for 15-30 minutes before carving into it. This helps to ensure it stays juicy, so don’t skip this step.

If you’re using the drippings to make gravy, you can remove the turkey and plate it on a serving tray or cutting board, especially if you are carving before serving. Otherwise it can rest on the roasting pan.

Thanksgiving turkey on a large cutting board with carving tools

Tips for cooking turkey

  1. Don’t wash the turkey. You’re just creating extra work for yourself, and possibly contaminating your sink this way. Save yourself the hassle, and let the high temps in the oven cook off any bacteria that may be on the turkey. Simply patting it dry with a paper towel is enough.
  2. Use vegetables as a roasting rack. If you don’t have a roasting pan, you can actually place extra onions, whole celery stalks and whole carrots underneath the turkey to prevent it from burning at the bottom. This is a great little hack if you’re using a regular pan or even a casserole dish.
  3. Trust the herbed butter rub. There’s no need to baste the turkey or cover the turkey. It will be juicy and tender just from the herbed butter mixture you rubbed all over. Basting the turkey requires you open the oven regularly, which could mess with the oven temperature and turkey cooking time. Plus it’s more work 😉
  4. Use a thermometer. This is your most powerful tool on Thanksgiving day to ensure the turkey is perfectly cooked. Don’t overcook the turkey for fear of making sure it’s not raw. The turkey needs to be at least 165ºF but it’s better if you can get it to 170ºF or 175ºF.

frequently asked questions

How early should I thaw my turkey?

It’s important to make sure the turkey is fully thawed before cooking it. The rule of thumb is one day of thawing for every 5 pounds. For a 15 pound turkey, remove the turkey from the freezer and place in the fridge 3 days before you plan to cook it. It doesn’t hurt to add an extra day too to be on the safe side.

Should I cover the turkey in the oven so it doesn’t burn?

There is no need to cover the turkey in the oven. With this cooking technique, it will slowly roast without burning, and it creates a crisp skin texture instead of a soft one.

How long should I cook my turkey?

The rule of thumb is 15 minutes for every 1 pound, but always double check by using a thermometer in the middle of the thighs. It should register at 170ºF or 175ºF degrees.

How much turkey do you allow per person?

Allow around 1.5 pounds of whole turkey per person, as the weight takes into account the bones. Cooking a little extra is always a bonus though to enjoy leftovers the following days!

To store the leftovers, remove the meat from the bones and store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. It can be enjoyed cold in salads and sandwiches, like this turkey panini, or used in soups and stews. The carcass can be used to make homemade stock.

Carved turkey on a white platter garnished with greens and lemon wedges

If you’re just starting out, this is such a fool-proof easy way to cook your first turkey! There’s nothing fancy and there are not tricks.

The result is a beautiful buttery bird that makes the perfect turkey Recipe. The skin comes out crispy, the meat is incredibly moist and the flavor is traditional and wonderful. It’s basically the best Thanksgiving turkey recipe with the least amount of stress!

Side Dishes for Thanksgiving

If you try this healthy-ish feel good Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

If you're looking for a fail-proof turkey roasting method, try this Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe for a perfectly cooked bird with no fuss!
5 from 28 votes
Servings 12
Course Entree
Calories 646
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 15 pound whole turkey neck and giblets removed
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 3 stalk celery coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup fresh sage leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325ºF. Remove the thawed turkey from the fridge 1 hour before roasting and allow it to come to room temperature. Remove the neck and giblets from inside the cavity of the turkey and set aside.
  • Place the turkey, breast side up in the roasting pan. Pat the outside and inside of the turkey dry with paper towels. Then stuff the onion, celery, and carrot inside the turkey cavity.
  • Fold wing tips under the bird. Tie the legs together with twine or dental floss.
  • Season the inside and outside of the turkey generously with the salt and pepper.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Then add the herbs and cook 1-2 minutes. Remove the herbs with a tong from the melted butter and place inside the turkey.
  • Use a brush to rub the reserved melted butter all over the turkey, making sure to get the sides. Use your hands to rub some butter underneath the skin as well.
  • Roast the turkey in the preheated oven uncovered for 15 minutes per pound, or about 3 hours for a 12 pound turkey. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 165ºF-170ºF. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest 15-20 minutes before carving.

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.
Make Ahead Tips: There’s really nothing I’d recommend making ahead of time for this easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe except for making sure to thaw it in advance. The herbed butter only takes one minute and is best made when making the turkey.

Nutrition

Calories: 646kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 93g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 319mg, Sodium: 1682mg, Potassium: 1003mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1214IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Final easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe on a serving plate

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Comments

  1. Hello! I ordered a 10-12lb turkey but would like to try this recipe! I know you suggest a 15lb, so should I make any adjustments or will it just not work well?

    Thank you!!

    1. You would just have to keep an eye on it. The rule of thumb is 15 minutes for every 1 pound, but always double check by using a thermometer in the middle of the thighs. It should register at 170ºF or 175ºF degrees.

      1. There’s really nothing I’d recommend making ahead of time for this easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe except for making sure to thaw it in advance. The herbed butter only takes one minute and is best made when making the turkey.

  2. This was my first time making a turkey and I was soo nervous. I knew going with any of your recipes would be a success!! It was absolutely delicious and juicy. We let the turkey rest for about 30 minutes (tented with foil and a towel on top) and it was perfection. So simple so easy so delicious!

  3. The best and delicious recipe for the person who never cooked Turkey before. My family and I enjoyed our super juicy turkey. Also, I made mashed potatoes and creamy corn. All the recipes were super easy, step by step. I saved this recipe and will recommend to everyone.

    1. I’m so happy to hear that!! What an amazing feeling to cook your first Thanksgiving turkey so well! Thank you so much!

  4. First time turkey maker! This recipe was perfect. So easy to follow and the turkey came out delicious! I was worried because everyone tells you to brine and baste but it came out so juicy! Thanks for making our first thanksgiving on our own a successful one.

    1. Yay!! I love that you used this recipe for your first turkey making experience and it came out good!! Thanks so much for taking the time to share!!

  5. This was my first time making the Turkey for Thanksgiving, so I was looking for a simple fool proof recipe. This one was just that, without compromising flavor. The prep and seasoning was simple and I followed the cooking time to a T. The turkey was perfectly cooked, it was juicy and the skin was perfectly crispy. I will do this recipe again next year and maybe try coating the bird in finely chopped herbs after coating on the herbed butter. Thanks for the easy to follow, delicious recipe! Wish I could add a picture to this review so you could see the golden brown crust of the turkey!

    1. Thank you for your amazing review!! Such an awesome feeling to make turkey perfectly for the first time!! So happy to hear that!