Roasting a turkey isn’t as complicated as some people would have you believe. While it does take time and planning, the actual process is fairly simple. Use these steps to wow your guests with a perfect roasted turkey.
Step 1: Plan your time wisely
To make sure your turkey is ready in time for your big dinner, you want to work backwards to estimate the amount of time you'll need to fix your feast. You can estimate the roasting and thawing time based on the weight of your turkey -- assume approximately one day of thawing per four pounds of turkey if you're thawing the bird in your fridge. Alternately, estimate 30 minutes of thawing per pound of turkey if you're thawing the bird in cold water. For cooking, set aside approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound of turkey, keeping in mind that larger turkeys require less time per pound. For instance, a 24 pound turkey may require only 12 to15 minutes cooking time per pound.
To ensure an especially flavorful and moist turkey, consider setting aside eight to 12 hours to brine the bird as well. Just don't brine a kosher or self-basting bird, as the brine will make it too salty.
Whether you decide to brine your bird or not, you'll need to clean it out and remove the sack of gizzards before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Enhance the flavor
To really bump up the flavor of your roasted turkey, you'll want to roast it with a variety of vegetables that will create a tasty broth as the turkey cooks. Cut up onions, celery, carrots and other vegetables of your choice into two-inch pieces, layering them across the bottom of your roasting pan. You can also add fresh herbs like basil leaves, rosemary or thyme.
Before you cut up the vegetables, go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F so it's ready to go when the bird is prepared.
Step 3: Prepare the bird
Place your thawed turkey on top of the layer of vegetables within the roasting pan. Use kitchen string to tie the drumsticks close to the body of the turkey, and then tuck its wings under the body. These two steps will help the turkey cook evenly throughout. Brush the turkey with a mixture of butter and oil, then season the bird with salt and pepper. Finally, pour two inches of water into the bottom of the roasting pan to help create a broth as the turkey roasts.
You're ready to put the turkey in the oven! Set a timer for about half the expected cooking time. When the timer goes off, pull the turkey and use the broth at the bottom of the pan to lightly baste the bird's skin. Place the turkey back in the oven to finish roasting. You know your turkey is done when its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Just like that, you're done!
Watch: How to carve a turkey
Tradition says slice at the table, but we think your guests will be just as happy with a pretty, plated presentation.