Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (VIDEO)

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Learn how to roast a juicy turkey with this step-by-step video tutorial. Please read required prep in notes section before you begin.
Author: Natasha of
Skill Level: Medium
Cost to Make: Varies by season and size of turkey
Servings: 8 -12


Roast Turkey Recipe Ingredients:

  • 12 lb turkey Anything from 11-15 lbs will work, but bake time will vary – see below
  • Salt & Pepper for the inside and outside of the bird
  • 1 large onion quartered (no peeling)
  • 4 garlic cloves halved (no peeling)
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 1 lemon quartered

For the Flavored Butter:

  • 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil not extra virgin, plus more to drizzle the top
  • 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice from 1 large lemon, plus 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 large garlic cloves pressed
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt I used sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground

What you’ll need:

  • Kitchen String
  • Heavy duty foil
  • A heavy roasting pan that accommodates your bird but isn’t over-sized
  • A temperature probe to ensure a fully-cooked turkey


Seasoning, Stuffing and Tying up a Turkey:

  1. Season inside turkey cavity generously with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine: 2 sticks softened butter, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest, 4 Tbsp lemon juice, 3 pressed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup parsley, 1/2 Tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Mash/stir with fork until combined (lemon juice doesn’t easily blend into butter, but keep mixing a few minutes and it will happen).
  3. Separate skin from the turkey breast by carefully pushing your fingers under skin from the front and the back of the turkey. Do not tear the skin.
  4. Stuff 2/3 of the butter mix under skin then massage over the top of the skin to spread the butter around.
  5. Quickly pat dry the outside of turkey and rub with remaining 1/3 butter mixture. Drizzle turkey with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper for a crisp, salty skin.
  6. Stuff turkey with quartered lemon, 1/2 bunch parsley, quartered onion, and 4 halved garlic cloves, Tie turkey base and legs together with kitchen string; crossing the legs to better close up the turkey cavity.

How to Roast a Turkey:

Prep: Pre-heat the oven to 430˚F with rack in the lower part of your oven.

  1. Fold a square sheet of foil into a triangle. Rub one side of triangle with olive oil and place it (oil-side-down) over the turkey breast to shape it into a shield. Remove foil and set aside (you'll put it back on in step 3).
  2. Place oven-safe meat thermometer into turkey beneath the drumstick and deep into the dark meat. Start roasting at 430˚F for 20 min.
  3. Remove from oven; quickly baste with liquid from bottom of pan using a baster or large spoon. Re-apply prepared foil triangle to turkey breast area.
  4. Reduce oven to 350˚F and bake for another 2 hours 30 min for a 12 lb bird. (Once you have reduced the oven to 350˚F, you will bake about 13 min for every pound of turkey). The turkey thigh should register at 170˚F on the temperature probe and the breast at 160˚F to make sure it's fully cooked through then remove from the oven (keep in mind the turkey temp continues to rise slightly after it's out of the oven).
  5. Transfer to serving platter and cover fully but loosely with foil. Let turkey rest at least 1 hour for it to tenderize. Keep the drippings for a most amazing gravy!

Recipe Notes

!Required Prep for Roast Turkey Recipe:
*If using frozen turkey, defrost it in its original bag in refrigerator 3 days.
*Let turkey sit at room temp 30 minutes before you begin (it will bake more evenly). *Remove the neck and bag of giblets from the turkey.
*Rinse turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Let turkey sit in on paper towels to soak up excess water.
*Fold wings behind/under the turkey or they will be the quickest to dry out.
*Cooking temps based on the USDA which now says the safe poultry temp is 165˚F but the deeper thigh parts really should be at 170˚ to be fully cooked through.