Cooking a turkey isn't as hard as you might think. With these simple steps and just a few ingredients, this is How to Cook a Turkey that is simple and delicious.
Turkey is always the star of the show on Thanksgiving and even for Christmas for some people.
Making a turkey can seem pretty intimidating seeing that it usually is the most important and takes the most prep work.
Don't fear because you got this. I laid out every step from thawing the turkey to roasting it. It's simple and easy to make and has the most amazing flavor.
Let's get starting my thawing our frozen turkey.
How to thaw your turkey for the perfect bake:
Unless you are buying a turkey the day before a big holiday then it most likely is frozen.
To prepare your turkey you want to allow it to thaw in the fridge.
Doing it on the counter or sink could cause bacteria to grow so thawing it slowly in the fridge is the best option.
- Keep your turkey in the original wrapping. Place the entire turkey still wrapped in a few plastic grocery store bags. I find this helps keep any mess your turkey might make when thawing easy to clean up.
- Place your turkey in the fridge. I used a 15-pound turkey and needed to allow mine to thaw in the fridge for 4 days. See the chart above to know how long you will need yours to thaw.
Thawing is one of the most important steps. You want to do it slowly and safely and the last thing you want is a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving morning.
- Full Turkey - I used a 15-pound turkey for this recipe.
- Salt and Pepper
- Unsalted Butter
- Lemon Juice
- Dried Thyme
I used a more Lemon Pepper style seasoning for this turkey.
You can also use my Homemade Turkey Seasoning for this if you would like.
The 7 Steps of cooking a turkey:
Step one: Once your turkey is thawed and ready to cook you want to start by removing all packaging.
The packaging that your turkey came in should tell you where the giblet package is and if you need to remove the neck.
Once everything is removed you can rinse your turkey with water then pat it dry and place it in your roasting pan.
Step two: Next rub salt and pepper on turkey. You can use more or less but I found this to be the perfect amount.
Rub it in good and even get it into the cavities.
Step three: In a medium saucepan melt 1 stick of butter. Make sure you are not melting all your butter you want to keep ½ stick cold for later.
Once melted remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice and thyme.
Step four: Slowly pour this over your turkey in the roasting pan.
Use a brush if needed to make sure it is even all over your turkey.
Step five: Slice the remaining ½ stick of butter and place it on top of the turkey. Bake for 3 - 3 ½ hours.
Step six: Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your turkey. See the chart above for suggested cooking time.
Turkey is safe to eat when it reaches at least 165 degrees F. I always use a meat thermometer to check and don't rely on the pop-up timer that some turkeys come with.
Step seven: Once cooked remove from oven and allow to rest on the roasting pan for 20-30 minutes.
Add to a platter then slice and serve.
Here are a few of my favorite sides to serve with my turkey:
Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes: Making recipes the day before a big holiday dinner is the best! Less work the day of and more time with family.
Cranberry Jello Salad: This recipe is one from my husband's childhood. It was his favorite and now a favorite with my family.
Green Bean Casserole: A classic holiday side dish recipe. This was a recipe my mom made every holiday and we loved it.
I would love for you to follow along and discover more amazing recipes.
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How to Cook a Turkey
- 15 pound turkey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (divided)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Preparing your roasting pan with rack and set aside.
- Remove turkey from bag. Remove giblet package, neck, and any clamps that are in your turkey (everything should be on the preparation directions on your turkey packaging).
- Rinse turkey then pat dry and place in a roasting pan. Rub salt and pepper on turkey.
- In a medium saucepan melt 1 stick of butter (keep ½ stick cold). Once melted remove from eat and whisk in lemon juice and thyme. Slowly pour this over your turkey in the roasting pan.
- Slice remaining ½ stick of butter and place it on top to the turkey. Bake for 3 - 3 ½ hours. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your turkey. See chart above for suggested cooking time. Turkey is safe to eat when it reaches at least 165 degrees F. I always use a meat thermometer to check and don't rely on the pop up timer that some turkeys come with.
- Once cooked remove from oven and allow to rest on the roasting pan for 20-30 minutes. Add to platter then slice and serve.