Classic Roast Turkey Recipe

The most basic of turkey recipes.

If you start with a quality bird, this is all you need to do. No brining, flipping or basting. But feel free to fancy it up. Change the herbs in the cavity, add a sage rub to the skin; just keep the basic technique the same and it’ll be a juicy, delicious bird.

Serves: 8-10 (with leftovers)
Prep time: 15 min.
Cook time: 2 hrs. in the oven and 30 minutes resting


12-14 pound fresh turkey
1 lemon, quartered
2 onions peeled and quartered
2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 large bunch parsley (or a combination fresh thyme, sage and parsley)
Olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Remove all the innards, saving the neck. Toss everything else, unless you have some special family recipe involving gizzards and livers. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry.

3. Place turkey in a sturdy roasting pan on a rack. Salt and pepper the cavity, then squeeze two quarters of the lemon inside. Add the lemon, parsley and one onion to the cavity. Squeeze remaining lemon over the outside of the bird, rub with olive oil and liberally salt and pepper.

4. Put the turkey neck, carrots, celery and remaining onion around the bird. Add 1 cup of water to the pan (to keep everything moist).

5. Roast uncovered for about 45 minutes. The turkey should be nicely browned. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and lightly cover the breast with foil. This tent keeps the breast from drying out. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes more and then check. The internal temperature of the thigh should be 170 degrees (it will rise to 180 degrees as it rests).

6. Carefully remove turkey from roasting pan and let rest for 30 minutes. Strain the pan drippings and toss the veggies and neck. Use the drippings to make the gravy.

Cook’s notes: This is an unstuffed bird, which equals juicy meat. If you stuff a turkey, you have to cook it at least 30 minutes longer and the breast ends up dry. For families that love their dressing and dark meat, it may be a worthwhile trade off. But if you’re a white meat lover, make the dressing separately.

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