This easy Thanksgiving turkey uses a simple herb butter mixture and a fail-proof cooking method that always makes crispy, browned skin. It's the easiest way to make an impressive and perfectly-cooked turkey of any size. This is a no-fuss recipe with no brining and no basting.Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links to cooking items we love & use. If you purchase through one of these links we may earn a small commission.
The full recipe is at the bottom of this page, but here's a quick overview of what you'll need and how to make this Thanksgiving turkey:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 3 teaspoons dried sage
- 3 teaspoons dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (12 - 22 pound) turkey
- 3 large yellow onions
- 1 lemon
- String or twine to tie the legs of the turkey
- Roasting pan (metal or aluminum)
- Instant read thermometer
How to Cook Thanksgiving Turkey
1. Prepare the oven
Move an oven rack to the lowest position possible. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Make the herb butter
In a small bowl, mix together butter, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
3. Prepare the turkey
Remove the turkey from its packaging and remove the neck & giblets from inside its cavity. Pat dry with paper towels.
4. Stuff the turkey
Place the turkey in a roasting pan. Add the onion and lemon into the cavity of the turkey. If not all of the onion fits, add it into the pan around the turkey. Tie the legs of the turkey together with string or twine.
5. Add the herb butter under the turkey skin
Loosen the skin on top of the turkey by placing a hand under the skin at the neck of the turkey. Move your hand along the turkey breast until the skin is separated from the meat. Add half of the herb butter under the skin.
6. Add remaining herb butter
Add the remaining half of the butter on top of the turkey, rubbing it on the whole turkey (including the wings & legs).
7. Roast & add foil
Roast the turkey in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Loosely tent foil over the turkey, covering it completely but not tightly. The turkey should be lightly browned before this step, let it roast longer before adding foil for a more browned turkey. 8
8. Finish roasting
For turkeys 15 - 18 pounds roast for 2 ¾ - 3 ½ more hours; for turkeys 18 - 20 pounds roast for 3 ½ - 4 more hours; for turkeys 21 - 22 pounds, roast for 4 ¼ - 4 ½ more hours. Take the temperature of your turkey in the thickest part of the breast meat (not touching bone) to know when it’s done. It should be cooked through to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Rest & serve
Remove turkey from the oven and allow to rest for 20 - 30 minutes before carving.
Frequently Asked Questions
For a stuffed turkey, cook it at 15 minutes per pound at 350°F.
A 15 - 18 pound turkey will feed about 12 - 15 people, a 18 - 20 pound turkey will feed about 15 - 18 people, and a 20 - 22 pound turkey will feed about 18 - 20 people.
Yes, most recipes will recommend that you cover your turkey to prevent it from over-browning. Cook your turkey for 1 hour (until lightly browned) and then loosely tent it with foil for the remaining cooking time.
Your turkey is cooked when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast (white meat) reads 165°F and the thickest part of the thigh (dark meat) reads 180°F.