Cooking your first holiday turkey can be intimidating for some. Add to that the multitude of cooking methods online, and it can be downright overwhelming! These step-by-step instructions are practically foolproof – you’ll be cooking like a seasoned pro in no time!
Turkey Cooking Instructions
If this is your first turkey, rest assured that by following these steps, your turkey will come out perfect!
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Remove giblet pack and neck from cavity of the turkey. Season cavity with salt and pepper, plus your favorite seasonings.
- Place turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in your roasting pan.
- Pour 1 up water or turkey broth into the bottom of your roasting pan.
- Place turkey in the center of the oven and roast uncovered according to the timetable below:
- Note: Cooking times are approximate. Oven temperatures will vary. Watch turkey carefully during the final hour of cooking and test for doneness every 15 minutes. Do not overcook. No basting is needed for our fresh turkeys.
- Roasting times are for unstuffed turkeys. If you stuff your turkey, stuff loosely and add approximately 1 hour to the Roasting Timetable.
Testing for Doneness: The most accurate way to test for doneness is with a digital probe, placed into the center of the thigh muscle. It should register 165° F. The breast temperature should be slightly higher than the thigh when done. If a thermometer is not used, push tip of the knife into the thickest part of the turkey (inside thigh muscle where the leg joins the body). Rotate knife halfway; if the juices have a red tinge, continue cooking. If the juices are clear or golden in color, the turkey is done.
We recommend that all poultry be roasted unstuffed. This will ensure your bird is cooked to perfection. Turkeys that are stuffed usually wind up overcooked because the heat can’t circulate, causing the turkey to be dry. If you want the flavor of the turkey in your stuffing, buy extra turkey backs and wings to make a roasted turkey broth. You can ask for the backs to be chopped to make them easier to handle.
Roasted Turkey Broth
The secret to this savory broth are the “brown bits” left over from roasting your turkey.
Back and Wings from 1 turkey, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
10 cups water
Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In a roasting pan, add chopped turkey back and wings, onion, celery and carrot.
- Roast for about an hour, using digital probe to test for doneness (165° F is safe for poultry).
- Remove meat from the pan and pick the meat from the bones, discarding the skin.
- Scrape up the brown bits that formed in the roasting pan. Add water, bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour.
- Add picked meat and salt to taste. Reduce for another 20 minutes.
- Note: Use about 2 cups of broth to moisten stuffing, and 6 cups of broth to make gravy. Bake stuffing in a separate pan, if possible.
Roasted Turkey Gravy
A simple yet rich, savory gravy that will perfectly compliment your turkey.
6 cups turkey broth
6 tbsp. flour
6 tbsp. fat from turkey in roasting pan
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pour fat and other liquid from roasting pan into a heatproof measuring cup, bowl, or gravy fat separator. Let cool until fat rises to the top and separate.
- Use the roasting pan that your turkey was roasted in, or the pan that the parts were roasted in to make the broth. Place this roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the roasting pan (This helps give the gravy a rich brown color and enhances its taste).
- Add fat to the roasting pan and heat, then sprinkle flour over fat, a little at a time, whisking until smooth.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles, about 3 or 4 minutes. While stirring with whisk, slowly add broth. Bring to a medium boil and reduce to simmer until desired consistency is reached.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- For Fat-Free Gravy: Omit fat, turn burners slightly lower and stir flour in roasting pan until brown, scraping sides of pan. Add broth slowly, stirring constantly until mixture comes to boil. Simmer 1 or 2 minutes to thicken. Serve and enjoy.
- If you’re using disposable pans, use 2, fitting 1 pan inside another for extra strength.
- Elsie’s Recommendations: Use a Cephalon-style non-stick roasting pan to get those nice, browned bits to make gravy with. Use a digital probe to ensure turkey is cooked thoroughly to a safe temperature and not overcooked.