How to Make a Thanksgiving Turkey
Hosting a Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to be as stressful and pressure-filled as it seems! I’ve got the perfect recipe to get you through it. It’s simple and delicious enough for a first-time turkey chef to make, and turkey veterans will also love it, not to mention your friends and family sitting around the table come to Turkey Day.
This recipe is a great way to introduce yourself to cooking a turkey. It really is a very simple protein to cook, especially when roasting or baking. I recommend getting a nice large roasting pan for this recipe so you can baste the turkey in juices throughout the cooking process.
Is it best to brine a turkey?
When you brine a turkey, it is to give the turkey a great taste, make it moister, and it is supposed to help make it stay tender. While it is not necessary for a delicious bird, it is recommended by many.
Many people feel strongly one way or the other about brining a turkey. Some people think that you have to brine a turkey to get a juicy bird, while others feel it is too tedious to make it worth it. While I do not brine my Thanksgiving turkey, you certainly can brine the turkey if you want.
Here is an excellent tutorial on brine a turkey should you choose to brine your bird.
Can I freeze leftover turkey?
When we make a turkey, there is always the worry about what to do with the leftover turkey. While I do make a few recipes with leftover turkey, I also like to freeze it.
I like to freeze the turkey so that we can have turkey another day and so I am not wasting anything left over from all the hard work I put in on Thanksgiving.
To freeze a turkey, I recommend pulling all the meat off the bone first. Then you can place the white meat and dark meat in separate freezer storage bags. I like to freeze them in quart-sized bags as they are just suitable for a meal for my family. Before putting it into the freezer, label, and date it so you know what type of meat you are pulling from the freezer.
Tip: Place all the bones and pan drippings into a freezer storage container and use it later to create a rich bone broth for turkey soups.
Ingredients for making turkey
- black pepper
- unsalted butter
- chopped sage
- garlic cloves
How do I create a Thanksgiving Turkey?
Preheat the oven to 350. Rinse and dry the turkey, making sure the giblets are removed.
Loosen the breast skin by separating it from the breast meat with your hands but be careful not to break the skin. Season with salt and pepper inside and out.
Zest 2 lemons and cut them in half. Mix the zest with butter and chopped herbs and gently rub it under the skin and all over.
Place the onions, lemon, garlic and whole herbs inside the turkey cavity.
Truss the turkey to keep the legs together and the wings down.
Place the turkey in the roasting pan on the rack and tightly cover it with foil. Roast for 3-3½ hours. Take the foil off for the last 15 to 30 minutes to brown the skin.
The turkey is finished when the juices run clear, and a meat thermometer reads 180° F in the thigh and 165° F in the breast.
More Easy Thanksgiving Recipes
- Corn Casserole
- Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Balsamic Orange Brussels Sprouts
- Skinny Country Green Beans
- Cranberry Apple Relish
- Skinny Pumpkin Pie
- 1 10-pound turkey
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 2 lemons
- 1 stick salted butter softened *lighten up by only using 4 tbsp
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
- 8 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 onion quartered
- 4 whole sprigs thyme
- a few whole leaves sage
- 4 whole sprigs rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and place a rack in a roasting pan.
- Rinse and pat dry the whole turkey, being careful to make sure the giblets are removed if included.
- Loosen the breast skin by separating it from the breast meat with your hands, being careful not to break the skin.
- Generously season the inside and outside of the turkey with salt and black pepper.
- Zest two lemons, then cut each lemon in half. Mix the lemon zest with the butter and chopped herbs, and gently rub half of the mixture under the breast skin. Rub the rest of the mixture on top of the turkey all over the breasts and legs.
- Place the onions, lemons, garlic, and whole herbs in the turkey cavity.
- Truss the turkey to keep the legs together and the wings down.
- Place the turkey in the roasting pan on the rack and tightly cover with foil, then roast for for 3-3½ hours. Take the foil off for the last 15 to 30 minutes to brown the skin.
- The turkey is finished when the juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 180° F in the thigh and 165° F in the breast.
- Discard lemons and onions in the cavity and remove the skin before eating.
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