How to Prepare a Turkey

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How to Prepare a Turkey

Wondering how to cook a turkey the best and easiest way? We’ve got you covered. This top-rated turkey recipe is perfect for seasoned pros and beginners alike.

Meredith Food Studio

How to Cook a Turkey

You’ll find a full, step-by-step recipe below with detailed instructions for cooking the perfect turkey. But, for now, here’s a brief overview of what you should expect when you follow Chef John’s simple recipe:

Prepare the Pan

Place the chopped vegetables in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on top of vegetables. Pat dry with paper towels.

Season the Inside

Mix salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Season the inside of the turkey with ⅓ of this mixture. Fold the wing tips under the bird. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the herbs and cook until fragrant. Remove the herbs (reserving the butter) and stuff them inside the turkey, then tie the legs with twine.

Season the Outside

Brush the bird with the melted butter. Sprinkle the butter-covered turkey with the remaining seasoning.

Roast the Turkey

Bake turkey, uncovered, in the preheated oven until no longer pink at the bone and juices run clear. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

How Long to Cook a Turkey

If you follow this recipe exactly, a 12-pound turkey should be done after about 3 hours. If your turkey is larger or smaller than 12 pounds, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time (check out our Turkey Cooking Time Guide for exact times per pound).
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Of course, you should always make sure to check the internal temperature before serving.

What Temperature to Cook a Turkey

This recipe produces perfectly juicy results at 325 degrees F. If your turkey is larger than 12 pounds, you’ll have to raise the temperature if you’d like it to be done within three to four hours.

What Temperature Should Turkey Be When It’s Done?

Sara Tane

An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, should read 180 degrees F.

Learn more: How to Check the Temperature of a Turkey

More Turkey FAQs

Here at Allrecipes, we know a thing or two about cooking the perfect Thanksgiving feast — that’s why we’ve made it our mission to answer your most burning turkey questions. Check out some of our best turkey tips, tricks, and guides from over the years:

· How to Brine a Turkey
· 3 Ways to Safely Thaw a Frozen Turkey
· How Much Turkey Per Person Do You Need?
· How to Truss a Turkey the Easy Way
· How to Smoke a Turkey
· How to Stuff a Turkey
· How to Carve a Turkey the Easy Way

Explore our entire collection of Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

“A last-minute Thanksgiving schedule change required that I find a set-it-and-forget-it turkey recipe,” says Cooker-roonie. “This one was just the ticket! Fast, easy, and tasty. What a combo. This was my first time cooking a turkey and it’s really nice to know that it doesn’t have to be difficult!”

“Made a delayed Thanksgiving dinner today … absolutely the best turkey ever,” raves Brenda Hadden. “So moist and flavorful. Try this recipe, drain the juices, and add chicken stock to make the gravy at the end.”
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“I made it on a rack instead of on top of veggies,” says fwilburnfgmailcom. “No one could believe how beautifully golden and moist it was! It stayed moist through reheating for multiple days!”

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams

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