Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey and the entire meal is something I look forward to every year. This turkey is absolute perfection and is not cook in a traditional way. There is no brining. No bag or slow cooker. You don’t have to fry it in hot oil and there’s no basting every 30-40 minutes. You actually prepare part of it the night before and it takes 5 minutes. The next day you wrap it in cheesecloth that’s been soaked in flavorful stock and butter. The meat is super tender and juicy with a golden crispy skin. Everything you want in the perfect turkey!

Since you are here for a fabulous turkey recipe, I’ve got some more tasty recipes I know you’ll love. If you’ve never had creamed corn you’ve got to try my recipe for Creamed Corn with Bacon. The kids will love making these Acorn Donut Holes and Turkey Pops. My Caramel Apple Cake and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars would make great additions to your dessert table!

The perfect cooked turkey

Best Thanksgiving Recipes

I can’t get over how fun it is to make this turkey!  Sounds a bit random to say about a recipe, but it’s true.  The reason I love it so much is that it is completely fool proof.  And have you checked out these pictures.  It looks like the luscious turkeys they serve in a classic Christmas movie.  The perfect turkey that you can’t help, but want to slice into through the TV!

Juicy and Tender Turkey Breast with crispy skin.

The story behind how I came about this recipe was a whole lot of research to make the perfect turkey for my oldest son.  He was 7 at the time and the holidays were coming up.

How to Cook Thanksgiving Turkey

Keep scrolling for all the steps you need to make your own perfect turkey.

Juicy and Tender Turkey Breast with crispy skin.

How To Cook A Turkey

THE NIGHT BEFORE:THE NIGHT BEFORE:

  • Remove your thawed or fresh turkey from the fridge, open it up and place it on your roasting rack that has been placed in your roasting tray.
  • Remove any giblets or innards and place the neck into the bottom of the roasting tray. This will be roasted along with the turkey and just add more flavor to your future gravy.
  • Pat dry with paper towels.
How To Cooke A Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Sprinkle 1 TBSP salt over the entire bird and inside the cavity. This will help break down the turkey meat, making it super tender.
  • Tie legs together with cotton twine, turn wings under the back of the turkey (so they won’t burn) and make sure the neck skin is folded under the back tightly.
How To Cooke A Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Cover the entire tray with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill overnight.
How To Cooke A Thanksgiving Turkey

THE DAY OF:

  • Remove the turkey from the fridge and place on the counter 1 1/2 hours before you put it in the oven. Bringing it to room temperature will help ensure an evenly cooked bird.
  • Place cut celery and carrots in the roasting pan and under the turkey. They will act as roasting rack to help the heat circulate around the entire bird.
  • Place the oven rack on the lowest rung and preheat your even to 425 degrees.
How To Cooke A Thanksgiving Turkey
  • 1 hour before you start to cook the turkey, pour the the chicken stock into a medium pot.
  • Add in onion, garlic, thyme sprigs and butter to pan
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Cool the mixture for 30-40 minutes.
How To Cooke A Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Remove the plastic wrap from the bird and season with pepper.
  • Dip cheesecloth in the basting liquid until completely soaked.
  • Place wet cheesecloth over the entire turkey like pictured above.
How To Cooke A Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Slowly pour or spoon the remaining stock mixture over the cheesecloth. Disperse the onion, garlic and sprigs around the roasting pan. Just make sure the cheesecloth is completely soaked. This is what helps self baste the turkey during the cooking process.
How To Cooke A Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Place the turkey into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. If you are using a foil disposable pan, place it on a large baking sheet for easy transfer.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 375 and cook for the remainder of the time left for the size of your turkey. See chart below.
  • For the last 10 minutes of cook time, carefully remove browned cheesecloth and let it brown a bit more.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving. This will allow all the juices to soak back into the meat.
How To Cook A Turkey
Juicy and tender turkey breast

Some other recipes you’ve got to check out!

Roasted Turkey Recipe

Perfect Roast Turkey

Amy Williams mynameissnickerdoodle.com
This method will give you the most perfect roasted turkey every time! Tender juicy meat and golden crispy skin.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brine, Christmas, dinner, herbs, Holiday, Thanksgiving
Prep Time: 1 day 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Rest Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 day 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 14-20 lb Whole Turkey
  • 1 TBSP Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • 4 Cups Chicken or Fresh Turkey Stock
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion Peeled and Quartered
  • 4 Whole Garlic Cloves Peeled and Slightly Crushed
  • 6 Sprigs Thyme
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cheese Cloth
  • 6 Celery Stalks Cut In Half
  • 4 Large Carrots Peeled and Quartered

Instructions

THE NIGHT BEFORE:

  • Remove your thawed or fresh turkey from the fridge, open it up and place it on your roasting rack that has been placed in your roasting tray.
  • Remove any giblets or innards and place the neck into the bottom of the roasting tray. This will be roasted along with the turkey and just add more flavor to your future gravy.
  • Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Sprinkle 1 TBSP salt over the entire bird and inside the cavity. This will help break down the turkey meat, making it super tender.
  • Tie legs together with cotton twine, turn wings under the back of the turkey (so they won’t burn) and make sure the neck skin is folded under the back tightly.
  • Cover the entire tray with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill overnight.

THE DAY OF:

  • Remove the turkey from the fridge and place on the counter 1 1/2 hours before you put it in the oven. Bringing it to room temperature will help ensure an evenly cooked bird.
  • Place cut celery and carrots in the roasting pan and under the turkey. They will act as roasting rack to help the heat circulate around the entire bird.
  • Place the oven rack on the lowest rung and preheat your even to 425 degrees.
  • 1 hour before you start to cook the turkey, pour the the chicken stock into a medium pot.
  • Add in onion, garlic, thyme sprigs and butter to pan
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Cool the mixture for 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove the plastic wrap from the bird and season with pepper.
  • Dip cheesecloth in the basting liquid until completely soaked.
  • Place wet cheesecloth over the entire turkey like pictured above.
  • Slowly pour or spoon the remaining stock mixture over the cheesecloth. Disperse the onion, garlic and sprigs around the roasting pan. Just make sure the cheesecloth is completely soaked. This is what helps self baste the turkey during the cooking process.
  • Place the turkey into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. If you are using a foil disposable pan, place it on a large baking sheet for easy transfer.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 375 and cook for the remainder of the time left for the size of your turkey. See chart above.
  • For the last 10 minutes of cook time, carefully remove browned cheesecloth and let it brown a bit more.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving. This will allow all the juices to soak back into the meat.
Tried this recipe?Mention and tag @mynameissnickerdoodle!

*Originally posted October 2015 and updated November 2020.

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Julie
    November 16, 2020 at 12:16 am

    I am sorry to have to ask, but I am not clear on one step. Does the turkey stay on the roasting rack (that you put it on the night before) while roasting it the next day or do you remove the turkey from the rack when you place the carrots and celery under it? I cannot tell from your beautiful photos if the rack remains during the whole process.

    • Reply
      Amy Williams mynameissnickerdoodle.com
      November 17, 2020 at 10:49 pm

      So sorry that was unclear. I slide the rack out and tuck under the vegetables. You can leave the rack in if you like, but once it’s been baking, it just makes it harder to wash later. And I’m all for easy clean up!

  • Reply
    Julie
    November 17, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    I am sorry to bother you with a question, but do you actually roast the turkey on the rack you placed it on the night before or do you just roast it sitting on the carrots and celery? Also, I cannot find the roasting time chart to which you refer. Thank you so much for your help!

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