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The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Ever!

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Try this Thanksgiving turkey recipe and enjoy what could be the best Thanksgiving turkey you ever had!

RELATED: 9 Thanksgiving Side Dishes With Bacon That Will Steal The Show

In this article:

  1. How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey
  2. What You Will Need for This Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
  3. Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Notes
  4. Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Instructions
  5. Thanksgiving Turkey Fresh from the Oven!
  6. Thanksgiving Turkey Ready to Serve!
  7. Carving the Thanksgiving Turkey!

A Classic Turkey Recipe for Thanksgiving You Must Try

How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

A delectable roasted turkey recipe reigns supreme on Thanksgiving, and you would do well to make sure you get your hands on one.

There is more than one way to cook a Thanksgiving turkey and countless other whole turkey recipes, but, a great Thanksgiving turkey recipe needn’t be elaborate and difficult.

What you only need is an easy-to-follow recipe with tips and tricks to get it done perfectly. So, check out this classic roast turkey recipe you can work with!

What You Will Need for This Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe:

  • 12 lbs. whole turkey

Herbed Butter Mixture Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 4 tbsp. rosemary, freshly chopped
  • 8 tbsp. softened butter
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste

Turkey Stuffing:

  • Lemons, onions, and sliced apples

For the Roasting Pan:

  • Chopped onions, sliced oranges and apples, parsley, and thyme

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Notes:

  1. If you begin with a frozen turkey, keep in mind that defrosting it takes much longer than many people imagine, and it can even take several days for a large turkey to become completely defrosted.
  2. The best way to do it is to let the turkey slowly defrost in your refrigerator, but it can take around a day for every four pounds of turkey.
  3. If you are short on time, you can also defrost it in cool water baths, but, even then, prepare to set aside at least half an hour for every pound of turkey.

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Instructions:

Step 1. Keep the Poultry Meat Dry

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Once you have finished rinsing your frozen turkey well, dry it out as best as you can. You can use a paper towel to pat your turkey dry.

Set it aside to allow it to reach room temperature.

Step 2. Prepare the Herbed Butter Mixture

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While the turkey is coming to room temperature, start chopping some fresh herbs: parsley and rosemary. This will help flavor the turkey very well.

After chopping, add your herbs to the softened butter. Season with some salt and pepper to taste.

Next, add the zest and juice of the lemon. Then, pour some olive oil into the mixture.

This will stop the butter from burning while your turkey is roasting. Lastly, add some garlic paste and give it a good mix!

Step 3. Separate the Skin from the Meat

Grab your turkey and carefully separate the skin from the meat itself. Be very gentle while doing this part ’cause you don’t want to tear the skin of your turkey.

Step 4. Stuff the Herbed Butter Mixture Underneath Turkey’s Skin

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Taking half of your herbed butter mixture, spread it underneath the skin of your turkey. Spread some of it too inside your turkey to bring out the flavor from within.

Step 5. Press and Spread

Press down the herbed butter mixture you placed beneath the turkey’s skin and spread it out evenly. You can do it in a circular motion ’til it’s mostly coated.

Step 6. Coat the Whole Turkey with Herbed Butter Mixture

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Using the remaining herbed butter mixture, coat the whole turkey. Spread it on the thighs, wings, and every single part of the turkey.

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Step 7. Stuff Turkey and Tie the Legs Together

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To add some extra flavor to your turkey recipe, stuff some lemon, onions, and sliced apples inside your turkey.

Once lightly filled, you can either tie the legs together or cut the skin slightly and tuck them into the opening to keep them together while baking.

You can also tuck the tips of the wings beneath the legs.

Step 8. Prepare the Roasting Pan

Before placing your turkey in a roasting pan, put in some chopped onions, sliced oranges and apples, and some fresh parsley and rosemary. Then, place your turkey over it.

Step 9. Cooking Time!

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Place your turkey into an oven preheated to 350ºF, and cook it for about one hour and 30 minutes.

Step 10. Baste Your Turkey

When the turkey comes out, use the drippings in the roaster pan and baste the whole turkey. This will add more flavor to your dish and it will also prevent your turkey from drying.

Step 11. Cover with Aluminum Foil

After basting your turkey, cover it with aluminum foil and bring it back to the oven for about two hours, still at a 350ºF temperature.

Thanksgiving Turkey Fresh from the Oven!

Now here’s what your turkey looks like straight from the oven! From the looks of it, it’s just so mouth-watering!

But before admiring your work and taking a break, let’s do some plating first for this turkey recipe!

Thanksgiving Turkey Ready to Serve!

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Garnish your roasted turkey with some fresh cranberries on the side and some parsley and rosemary to bring more color to your dish.

Carving the Thanksgiving Turkey!

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Ta-da! Now, how can anyone resist such a delicious turkey recipe like this? The color is just perfect, it’s still moist and juicy inside, and most of all, it tastes perfectly delicious.

Now you can let the honorary turkey carver do the job, or you can have that distinction and learn how to carve a turkey here!

Watch the full video tutorial of this sumptuous dish for Thanksgiving from Cooking with Claudia:

There you have it, home cooks—what could very well be the best Thanksgiving turkey recipe ever! A slow-roasted turkey recipe, so delicious and finger-licking good, you’ll pick the bones clean.

We sure hope you’ll still have some leftovers because it’ll make some mean leftover turkey soup. In the meantime, enjoy your special home-cooked turkey and Happy Thanksgiving!

Will you give this Thanksgiving turkey recipe a try? Let us know in the comments section below what your thoughts are on this delicious Thanksgiving turkey recipe.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 9, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy. 


    • Tracy says

      Mine was pre-brined, and I still added a little bit of salt to the butter that I used on my turkey. I didn’t add any more salt to the turkey, though. You are right, and you definitely need to be careful not to add too much salt to a pre-brined turkey. It really depends on the brine used, how long the turkey was in the brine solution, and how salty you like your food, of course.
      If in doubt, with a pre-brined turkey you should be fine without adding any salt. You can always add a little later on if needed after carving and taste testing it. 😉

    • Tracy says

      I added my herbs to the butter…
      I made the herb butter with 3 sticks of butter, 5 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of sage, thyme, and rosemary, and a teaspoon of salt. That was a much larger amount than what is needed for the turkey, but I also used it for other things. You can cut that in half, or even use just a third of that.

  1. Charles stevens says

    I have been a used of comiting sacralige, but as my clan likes leftover turkey i buya larger bird and half it, baking both halves and carving one half to serve and the second to display. Then the second half is recycled as your faverit turkey dish.
    The halves cook much faster or can be cooked at a lower temp. But I admit you might want to buy an extra wile they are on sale, have it split ant repackage and kook it next spring if your conserned with being lynched by the tradisionists .


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