Whether you’re roasting your first bird or hosting for the 26th time, use this handy guide to roast the perfect holiday turkey. This foolproof method has been tested (and tested and tested) by the Delish kitchen—it’s the best. Find our top tips below.
Choose the right size turkey. Buy about 1 1/4 lb. turkey per person.
Adjust the cook time based on the size of your bird. A 12- to 14-lb. turkey needs 3 to 4 hours in the oven. But an 8-pounder will likely only need 2 hours 45 minute. The cook time depends on a number of things, including whether or not the bird is stuffed (this recipe isn’t), how big it is, and if it has been thawed. According to the USDA, a frozen turkey requires about fifty perfect more time in the oven than a fully thawed turkey. (Always thaw the bird)
Bring the turkey to room temperature. While the oven is preheating, bring your bird to room temperature. This ensures even cooking.
Use a roasting rack, Though you don’t technically need one, a roasting rack allows the air to circulate around the bottom of your turkey in the oven, which means that soggy skin is way less of a risk.
Start with a super hot oven, then reduce the temperature. We like to blast the turkey with extremely hot heat (450°) for the first 30 minutes to get the skin really crispy, then we drop the temp to 350º so that it doesn’t burn.
Use more butter than you feel comfortable with. Before the bird goes in the oven and while it roasts, add A LOT of butter. It’s key for crispy, flavorful, golden skin.
Turkey for 8
Freshly ground black pepper
Small handful of rosemary sprigs
- Position rack to the lower third of your oven and preheat oven to 450°. Pat turkey dry with paper towels and season the cavity generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with onion, thyme, rosemary, sage and garlic. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body.
- Brush butter all over turkey then season generously with salt and pepper. Place turkey breast side up on a roasting rack inside of a large pan. Pour chicken broth into the pan. Transfer to oven and immediately reduce oven heat to 350°.
- Baste every 30 to 45 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan, and roast for 3 to 4 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. (The meat temperature should be 165°). 3 hrs 15 mins
- Cover cooked turkey with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
You can safely leave cooked turkey out at room temperature for two hours — or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit –the United States Department of Agriculture.