How to roast the perfect turkey

Whether you are a novice or or a professional chef, roasting the bird can be quite a challenge. God knows how many turkeys turned out to be a...well, a turkey, undercooked or broiled to a crisp. Trial and error, and a bit of luck, has allowed me to discover the little things that contribute to the perfect roast turkey. These are not set in stone, but the tips will help you get closer to an enjoyable Thanksgiving or Christmas eve dinner.


Remove giblets from turkey cavity and wash inside of thawed or fresh turkey well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Season the inside of the bird with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Place thawed or fresh turkey breast-up on a flat rack in a shallow pan, 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep.
Brush or rub skin with extra-virgin olive oil to prevent the skin from drying and to enhance the golden color. Another way is to apply bacon strips on top of the breasts.
Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle but not touching the bone.
Place turkey in the oven.
When the turkey is about two-thirds done, loosely cover the breast and top of drumsticks with a piece of lightweight foil to prevent overcooking the breast.

Use this roasting schedule below as a guideline; start checking to see whether the turkey is cooked about 1/2 hour before recommended end times. Turkey is done when meat thermometer reaches 180ºF (for an unstuffed turkey) and juices run clear when the thigh muscle is deeply pierced

Net Weight (in pounds) Unstuffed (in hours)
10 to 183 to 3 1/2
18 to 223 1/2 to 4
22 to 244 to 4 1/2
24 to 304 1/2 to 5

Do you have more tips on roasting the perfect turkey?

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