Herb Roast Turkey is the most perfect holiday meal (or Sunday supper). Turkey is generously seasoned, covered with fresh herbs and roasted to tender juicy perfection. Use the drippings to create a quick and easy turkey gravy for the perfect holiday meal.
How to Cook a Turkey
Cooking a turkey may seem daunting but I can assure you it is easy to do. As we all know, it takes a lot of time but the results are well worth it. Below I have provided step-by-step directions for how to cook a turkey to juicy perfection.
Overview of Steps for Cooking a Turkey:
- Prepare turkey.
- Stuff turkey (optional)
- Tie or truss the turkey
- Roast the turkey
- Rest turkey
How to Prepare a Turkey for Roasting
In order to prepare a turkey you will need to ensure it’s defrosted which, depending on the size, can take several days. How long to defrost & roast turkey printable.
- Brine (optional): Brine turkey up to 24 hours or according to brine recipe. Drain well and pat dry. Roasting a brined turkey follows the same directions as a turkey that hasn’t been brined.
- Remove Giblets/Neck: Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey. I usually place them in the pan to bake alongside the turkey and flavor my drippings for gravy.
- Stuff turkey (optional): Loosely stuff the turkey with stuffing or herbs. Scroll below for more info if you’re stuffing the turkey. (Image #1)
- Dab Dry: Dab the turkey dry with a paper towel, this will help the skin crisp better. If you’re stuffing the turkey, wipe the inside with a dry paper towel to remove any debris.
- Oil & Season: Generously rub the outside of the turkey with olive oil or slightly cooled melted butter and season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and lots of fresh herbs. (Image #2)
How to Stuff a Turkey
Stuffing a turkey is optional, a stuffed turkey will take longer to cook. If you decide not to stuff your turkey, I would suggest adding an onion and some fresh herbs to the cavity for extra flavor.
- Prepare stuffing according to recipe directions.
- Cool completely, this is important to avoid bacteria. I prepare my stuffing well in advance (but do not stuff turkey in advance).
- Very gently spoon the stuffing into the main cavity of the turkey, do not pack it in.
- Add a little bit of stuffing to the neck cavity as well, seal with the flap of skin left on the turkey with a small metal skewer.
How to Tie a Turkey
Now that this herb roasted turkey is stuffed and seasoned, it’s time to tie it up and get it in the oven.
Flip the wing tips under the turkey, this keeps the tips from burning and also helps stabilize the turkey.
If your turkey has a band of skin near the cavity opening, you can tuck the legs into the band. If not, simply criss cross the legs over the cavity and tie them together with a piece of kitchen string.
How to Roast a Turkey
To roast a turkey in the oven takes time but it’s actually easy! You’ll need a large roasting pan, I personally do not recommend a disposable roasting pan as they don’t tend to hold the heat as well which can sometimes add tons of extra cook time.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (per recipe below).
- Place prepared turkey breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. If you do not have a rack, balled up foil or large pieces of onion/celery/carrot are great to hold the turkey up and off the bottom of the roaster.
- Add an onion, a couple pieces of celery and a couple of carrots in the bottom of the pan (optional, this will add great flavor to your gravy). Add 1″ or so of broth to the bottom of the pan.
- Place turkey in the oven, reduce heat to 325°F and roast until the turkey reaches 165°F (and if stuffed, the center of the stuffing should reach 165°F).
- REST the turkey at least 20-30 minutes before carving.
How Long to Roast a Turkey
Turkey roasting time can vary depending on if the turkey is stuffed or not. If you are short on time, you can Spatchcock Turkey to make cooking extra quick. For a smaller turkey meal, make Roast Turkey Breast.
- 14 to 18 pounds
- Unstuffed: 3 3/4 to 4-1/2 hours
- Stuffed: 4 to 4-1/2 hours
- 18 to 22 pounds
- Unstuffed: 3-1/2 to 4 hours
- Stuffed: 4-1/2 to 5 hours
- 22 to 24 pounds
- Unstuffed: 4 to 4-1/2 hours
- Stuffed: 5 to 5-1/2 hours
- 24 to 30 pounds
- Unstuffed: 4-1/2 to 5 hours
- Stuffed: 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours
Cook times are approximate and will vary. Turkey should reach 165°F* in both the meat and the center of the stuffing.
What Temperature to Roast a Turkey
I like to preheat the oven to 350°F and then when I place the turkey in the oven, I turn the oven down. Slow roasted turkey at 325°F comes out perfectly tender and juicy.
According to the USDA, a turkey is fully cooked with both the meat and the center of the stuffing reach 165°F. Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh and ensure it is not touching the bone.
Favorite Turkey Dinner Sides
- The BEST Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Turkey Gravy
- Corn Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole
- Easy Stuffing Recipe/Sausage Stuffing
- Classic Deviled Eggs Recipe
Herb Roast Turkey
Herb rubbed turkey roasted to juicy perfection.
- 12-14 lb turkey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup herbs (chopped)
- 1 recipe stuffing (optional)
- onions and fresh herbs (optional)
- 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavity and pat turkey dry with paper towels. If stuffing the turkey, wipe the inside of the cavity with paper towels.
- Rub olive oil and chopped herbs over turkey and season generously with salt/pepper.
If stuffing turkey, fill with stuffing loosely (do not pack stuffing) or add 1/2 an onion and fresh herbs to the cavity.
- Tie legs together with kitchen string or tuck under the flap of skin at the tail if your turkey has one. Twist the tips of the wings under the turkey.
Place turkey in a roasting pan on a rack, breast side up (optional, add celery, onion, carrot and the turkey neck to the bottom of the roasting pan). Add 4 cups broth to the bottom of the pan (or enough to fill the pan about 1" deep).
Add turkey to the oven, reduce heat to 325°F and roast until turkey reaches 165°F *see below. Once the breast starts to brown, loosely tent a piece of foil over the breast so it doesn't overcook.
- Remove turkey from the roasting pan and tent with foil, rest at least 20 minutes. Make gravy from the drippings while the turkey rests.
Note: The meat and the stuffing of the turkey should reach 165°F.