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Thanksgiving turkey on a plate with sage and lemons.
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4.98 from 126 votes

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey (Best No-Fail Recipe)

This is the BEST Thanksgiving turkey recipe. You don't need to brine and you don't need to baste. Just a few simple steps and you'll have a perfectly golden, juicy, and insanely flavorful roasted turkey that'll impress your family and guests. Watch the video above!
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time: 4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: roast turkey, thanksgiving turkey recipe, turkey recipe
Servings: 14 servings (for a 14 pound turkey)
Calories: 515kcal
Author: Lisa Bryan

Ingredients

Roast Turkey

  • 12-18 pound turkey (*see notes below about using a larger turkey) fully thawed
  • 1 onion peeled and quartered
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • 1-2 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1-2 sprig fresh sage
  • salt and pepper

Herb Butter

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped

Vegetables Under Turkey (optional, but recommended)

  • 1 onion peeled and quartered
  • 3 ribs celery roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Allow your turkey to come to room temperature by removing it from the fridge 1 hour before roasting. Then, remove the giblets.
    Giblets removed from a whole Thanksgiving turkey
  • Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C) and pat the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels. Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Then fill it with the onion, lemon, and fresh herbs. If your turkey is smaller, don't overfill the cavity as you do want some airflow.
    Stuffing a Thanksgiving turkey with onions, herbs, and lemon
  • In a small bowl, make the herb butter by stirring the softened butter, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme together.
    Herb butter mixture being mixed in a bowl.
  • Loosen the skin of the turkey gently by sliding your fingers underneath. Then rub about 1/3 of the herb butter between the skin and turkey breasts.
    Rubbing herbed butter under the skin of a Thanksgiving turkey.
  • Rub the remaining herb butter all over the entire outside of the turkey.
    Rubbing herbed butter all over the skin of a Thanksgiving turkey
  • Place the turkey on a roasting rack or on top of a bed of vegetables (if you don't have a rack), or both! Tuck the wing tips under the turkey to prevent them from burning.
  • Place the turkey in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 158°-160°F. You don't need to baste the turkey, but do keep an eye on it after it's about 75% done. If you notice the skin browning too quickly, you can place aluminum foil on top. To verify the temperature, place a thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh or breast. The turkey will continue to cook once it's removed from the oven and will rise in temperature to 165°F, after it's rested.
  • Let the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, making for a deliciously juicy turkey. To keep the turkey warm, you can cover the turkey with aluminum foil on the counter.
  • Carve and serve the turkey. And make sure to save the juices from the pan to make turkey gravy!
    The turkey recipe carved on a platter.

Video

Notes

  • You can certainly use a turkey larger than 18 pounds, but you may need a little more herb butter and you'll need to cook it longer. If your turkey is less than 12 pounds, you may have a little extra herb butter, so you might want to reduce the quantity.
  • It's common for ovens to vary by up to 25 degrees, with some cooking hotter and others cooking cooler (my oven cooks cooler). So it's best to verify how your oven cooks (before the big turkey day), by purchasing an oven thermometer and testing.

Nutrition

Calories: 515kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 70g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 249mg | Sodium: 528mg | Potassium: 733mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 411IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 3mg