Roast a Turkey

How To: Roast A Turkey

When you stop and think about it, roasting a turkey of any size follows the same basic procedures—time is the biggest variant. And, when it comes to safe handling and preparation of a turkey or any poultry for that matter, there are no short cuts. You should take precautions to avoid cross-contamination of food and cooking utensils, and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

  • Wash and dry. After removing a turkey from the packaging in which it was purchased, wash the bird thoroughly with warm water inside and out. Afterwards, dry the turkey thoroughly inside and out with paper towels. If using a cloth towel, do not use it again for any other purpose until it has been laundered. The turkey may be refrigerated after it has been washed.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. Wash cutting boards, knives and any other equipment after it has come into contact with the raw turkey or its juices before using again for any other purpose. For example, a knife that has been used to cut raw poultry should not be used to cut vegetables or other ingredients until it has been thoroughly washed in hot soapy water.
  • Be careful with stuffing. Stuff a turkey just before you are about to put it in the oven. Do not stuff a raw turkey and then refrigerate it or leave it sitting on the counter. After the turkey has finished roasting, remove all the stuffing from the turkey. Do not refrigerate leftover turkey with the stuffing still inside it.

To watch a video of this tutorial, click here.

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The Steps

  • Step 1 Assemble all of your ingredients, including made-ahead stuffing (if desired), before beginning to cook. Be sure to wash and dry the turkey inside and out. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  • Step 2Optional: Fill the turkey cavity with stuffing. Don’t overfill or pack the stuffing too tightly. Stuffing expands during roasting and, if packed too densely, it will not cook thoroughly.
  • Step 3 Truss the legs together. Trussing the cavity closed is optional.
  • Step 4 Tuck the wing tips under the bird. This way they are close to the body and won’t burn during roasting.
  • Step 5 Brush melted butter all over the bird. You may also use a mixture of equal parts melted butter and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Step 6 Season with salt and pepper. Optional: Sprinkle with paprika for extra color and flavor, and/or add coarsely chopped carrots, onion, celery, and a tablespoon of butter to the bottom of the roasting pan. Set the turkey, breast side up, in a roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Place the roasting pan in the oven. Optional: Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan.
  • Step 7 Pour 1 cup of turkey or chicken stock over the turkey. Roast the turkey at 450°F for about 20 minutes.
  • Step 8 Reduce the heat to 325°F and continue roasting. As the turkey roasts add 1 cup of stock and 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan every hour. Add more stock if necessary to maintain the liquid in the bottom of the pan to prevent it from roasting dry and burning. Estimate your roasting time at 13 to 17 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey, and 15 to 20 minutes per pound for a stuffed bird.
  • Step 9 Baste the turkey every 15 to 20 minutes with pan juices.
  • Step 10 Test the turkey’s doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the meaty part of the thigh, away from any bone. Remove the turkey from the oven when the internal temperature registers 165–170°F.
  • Step 11 Let the turkey rest for about 15 minutes after removing it from the oven. The turkey will continue cooking as it rests and the internal temperature will increase to about 180°F by the end of the resting period. The turkey is done when the internal temperature registers 180°F and the juices run clear. Also check the stuffing’s temperature, which should register 160°F. Optional: Tent the turkey with foil while it rests.