whole roasted turkey on platter

How to Cook the Perfect Turkey

Learning how to cook a turkey is easier than you may have thought.  With a few simple tips and tricks you can have a perfect juicy, golden brown turkey on your holiday table.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword how to cook a turkey
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Resting Time 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings 10 people
Calories 421kcal
Author Leigh Anne Wilkes



  • 13-15 lb. turkey thawed
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • 1 apple quartered
  • 2 springs rosemary
  • 2 spring sage
  • 2 sprigs thyme or oregano

Herb Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh herbs chopped (rosemary, oregano, thyme, etc.)


  • Thaw turkey in refrigerator. 24 hours for every 5 lbs.
  • Allow turkey to sit at room temperature one hour before putting in the oven.
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees F with rack at the bottom of oven, you want the turkey in the center of your oven.
  • Mix together herb mixture.
  • Remove neck and giblets from inside of the turkey, rinse and pat turkey dry.
  • Using your fingers, loosen the skin of the turkey and rub half the butter mixture under the skin. Spread the other half over the top of the skin.
  • Stuff the inside of the turkey with lemon, onion, apple and fresh herbs. Tuck the wings under the turkey and tie the legs together with kitchen string.
  • Place turkey on rack in roasting pan.
  • Fold a piece of foil into a triangle and shape it to fit the turkey, covering the breast area. See photo above.
  • Roast the turkey at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes to let the skin turn golden brown.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F, insert oven safe meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, being sure not to hit the bone. Cover turkey with foil triangle. Cook the turkey until it reaches 160 degrees F. and remove from oven. Tent with foil and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before carving.


Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 188mg | Sodium: 453mg | Potassium: 563mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 460IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg