Whole Oven-Roasted Turkey

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I made this turkey for Thanksgiving this year, and let me just say, it has 100% changed my opinion on the bird. I was never a big fan of turkey on Thanksgiving. Most that I’ve had have just been too dry for my taste, and I’m not a big fan of smothering things in gravy (unless it’s a biscuit). The cooking method and timing are what can make or break turkey.

We used an electric roaster for ours, and I definitely recommend this method. Mainly because you are not, I repeat not, going to baste the bird. It is super important to place the turkey in the roaster and leave it alone. No lifting the lid, no checking, no peeking, and no basting. The turkey will actually baste itself if you don’t lift the lid, and it will be the most tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone perfect turkey you’ve ever had. If you don’t have a roaster, you can probably use a roasting pan with a lid in the oven. However, just like with the electric roaster’s lid, you shouldn’t lift the lid on the pan or even open the oven. Every time you do, the temperature inside the  roaster or oven goes down, and this affects the way the turkey cooks. Cooking it in the oven will make it quite inconvenient if you need to cook other things. Electric roasters aren’t very expensive (around $30 to $40, sometimes cheaper if you find a deal or a sale), and they will come in handy year after year.


Ingredients: 

  • 1 whole turkey (10 pounds)
  • 2 apples, sliced and cored (no need to peel)
  • 1 lemon, wedged
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • seasoned salt

Preparation:

  • Set your roaster or oven to the highest setting (ovens – generally 500F, and our roaster goes up to 450F).
  • Remove any giblets, look for and remove any stray feathers, and thoroughly rinse the inside and out of the turkey.
  • Season the inside cavity with salt. A couple of teaspoons should do.
  • Rub the entire outside of the bird with olive oil. Give it a generous coating, making sure to reach under the legs and wings.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of seasoned salt (we use Lawry’s brand) over the entire turkey, again, making sure to get the legs and under the wings.
  • Stuff the inside cavity with lemon wedges and apples.
  • Place the bird on the wire rack inside of the roaster pan, and close the lid.
  • Roast the bird on the highest setting for 30 minutes, no more and no less.
  • Reduce the heat to 325F and cook for 2.5 hours (for a 10 pound bird. I will list cooking times below for other weights).
  • Again, don’t lift the lid for any reason.
  • The breast should read 165F on a meat thermometer, and the thigh should be 180F. You need to check the thickest part of the breast and thigh when checking the temp.
  • Let the turkey rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

Honestly, we didn’t even have to carve our bird. It literally just pulled apart. We were all surprised that this “no-baste” method produced the best turkey we’ve ever had.

Here are the approximate weights and cooking times:

8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours

No matter what size the bird is, keep the high-temperature (450F to 500F) roasting time to 30 minutes. This 30-minute timing is mainly to activate the olive oil to brown the skin and jump-start the cooking process.

I have always read that placing stuffing inside a raw turkey before cooking is unsafe. You run the risk of salmonella leaching from the turkey into the stuffing. Plus, the cooking time is longer with a stuffed bird, and this can lead to dry, overcooked meat. I definitely recommend cooking the stuffing separately and using the apples and lemon inside the bird instead. Discard the apples and lemon after cooking.

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