How to Cook a Perfect Turkey


Turkey was locally raised organic 30 pounder

Turkey was locally raised organic 30 pounder-Whiffletree Farm

Cooking a perfect turkey is simple if you follow all the steps below. Every step from thawing, brining, long slow roast to letting it rest is critical for perfection! The turkey will fall off the bones when you take it out of the oven! We had to prop the legs up for the photo because it fell apart.

1. What size turkey should you buy: How many people are you feeding? The general rule is one pound per person. This gives enough for leftovers.

2. How to thaw a turkey– Keep in the original packaging.  The guidelines for refrigerator thawing are as follows;

Turkey Weight Thawing Time
Up to 12 lbs 1-3 days
12 to 16 lbs 3-4 days
16 to 20 lbs 4-5 days
20 to 24 lbs 5-6 days

DON’T thaw on the counter, in water or in the microwave- you don’t want food poisoning.

3. If you want the turkey succulent follow my directions on how to   Brine a Turkey. Brining a turkey makes a huge taste difference and tenderizes it. Take the turkey out of the original packaging for the last day and a half of thawing time and put into the brine. The brine actually helps to thaw it.

4. Rinse brine off turkey, pat dry and put into your roasting pan.  Add three peeled carrots and 2 medium quartered onions to the bottom of the pan for added flavor. Cover well with aluminum foil. Tuck the foil around rim tightly, this locks in moisture. Do all of this the night before  your turkey meal. When I go to bed I set my oven for 325 degrees so that it will be ready when I get up in middle of the night (3:AM).

5. Turkey baking time: Take upper racks out of oven. Preheat oven to  325 degrees F.

Approximate Roasting Times for Stuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight
6 to 8 pounds 3 to 3-1/2 hours
8 to 12 pounds 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours
12 to 16 pounds 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours
16 to 20 pounds 5-1/2 to 6 hours
20 to 24 pounds 6 to 6-1/2 hours
Approximate Roasting Times for Unstuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight
6 to 8 pounds 2-1/2 to 3 hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 4 hours
12 to 16 pounds 4 to 5 hours
16 to 20 pounds 5 to 5-1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds 5-1/2 to 6 hours

6. At 7:AM I turned the temperature down to 300 degrees.  Take foil off turkey when you get up and baste with butter. Put foil back on and every hour after take off and baste with  more with butter. Make sure you have a meat thermometer, insert it into the thigh not touching bone.  When the internal temperature of the turkey is 165 degrees take foil off and turn the temperature up to brown the skin. This only took 15 min’s- I turned it up to 450 for speed. Don’t go do something else, keep your eye on the bird.  You’ve spent too much time on it to dry it out!  After it is beautifully brown turn the oven temperature down to 250 degrees and let it rest in the oven to reabsorb any moisture it lost by puncturing it with the thermometer. 30 min’s to 1 hour before serving turn heat completely off. Continue basting turkey for moisture.

7. The turkey will fall apart. You won’t get beautiful photo’s because it’s falling apart.

8. To make gravy -pour turkey drippings into a skillet and turn up heat. Whisk flour of your choice  in and add water as needed. If you brined the turkey you WONT need salt. It is perfectly salted already. Enjoy!!

The pan wasn't big enough but we still used it! Aluminum foil kept it secure and sealed tight.

The pan wasn’t big enough but we still used it! Aluminum foil kept it secure and sealed tight


  • Tracy said:

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  • Joanne said:

    love your encouragement!!! just what I needed, thanks.