A Simply Perfect Roast Turkey

This simple roast turkey just like grandma used to make. Seasoned with salt and pepper and basted with turkey stock, the flavors of the turkey really stand out. Stuff with your favorite dressing.

Nothing screams “Thanksgiving” quite like a picturesque roast turkey worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. Believe it or not, an impossibly gorgeous holiday table of your dreams is within reach — learn exactly how to roast a turkey with this easy recipe.

Roast Turkey Ingredients

You need just five ingredients to make this top-rated roast turkey recipe:

  • Turkey: This recipe calls for an 18-pound whole turkey.
  • Stuffing: You’ll need eight cups of prepared stuffing. Use store-bought or try one of our best recipes for homemade stuffing.
  • Butter: Salted butter, rubbed onto the skin, ensures a juicy roast turkey every time.
  • Salt and pepper: This roast turkey is simply seasoned with just salt and pepper. Of course, you can add more spices to suit your taste.
  • Turkey stock: The bird is cooked in and basted with store-bought or homemade turkey stock.

How to Roast a Turkey

You’ll find the full, step-by-step recipe below — but here’s what you can expect when you make this top-rated roast turkey:

  1. Prepare the turkey: Remove the turkey neck and giblets. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels, then place it (breast-side up) on a rack in a roasting pan.
  2. Stuff and season the turkey: Fill the cavity with stuffing. Rub the skin with butter, then season with salt and pepper. Pour two cups of stock into the roasting pan and loosely tent the turkey with foil.
  3. Roast the turkey: Roast, basting with stock every 30 minutes, for about two and half hours. Add more stock as the drippings evaporate. Remove the foil and continue roasting until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F.

How Long to Roast a Turkey

The 18-pound turkey is roasted for about four hours at 325 degrees F. If your turkey is larger or smaller than 18 pounds, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time. Learn more in our Turkey Cooking Time Guide.

Do You Need a Roaster?

Nope! While an electric roaster is certainly nice to have, this recipe was developed for the oven.

Roast Turkey Temperature

You’ll know your roast turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F.

More Turkey FAQs

Here at Allrecipes, we know a thing or two about cooking the perfect Thanksgiving feast — that’s why we’ve made it our mission to answer your most burning turkey questions. Check out some of our best turkey tips, tricks, and guides from over the years:

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

“This was so easy, but the results were so delicious,” raves Heather. “My guests all raved about how juicy the turkey was. The only thing I did differently was put butter under the skin as well as on top.”

“This turned out great,” says Thalia31883. “I added seasoning to the butter before I massaged it into the turkey. First time I ever made a turkey and it turned out wonderfully brown and the meat was incredibly moist. I’ll definitely make this again!”

“I used this recipe for my first ever turkey, and it turned out beautifully,” says RachelW. “Golden brown, juicy and moist. It was a big hit, everyone was super impressed. I used the suggestion of placing it on a rack, which really helped keep the bottom from becoming soggy.”

Ingredients

  • 1 (18 pound) whole turkey
  • 8 cups prepared stuffing
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ quarts turkey stock, divided

Directions

  1. Gather all ingredients. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place a rack in the lowest position of the oven.

  2. Remove turkey neck and giblets. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels, and place breast-side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
  3. Loosely fill turkey cavity with stuffing. Rub skin with butter, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour 2 cups of turkey stock into the roasting pan.
  5. Loosely tent turkey with aluminum foil, and roast turkey for 2 1/2 hours, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes. When drippings evaporate, add remaining stock to the pan, 1 to 2 cups at a time.
  6. Remove foil and continue roasting until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reads 165 degrees F (75 degrees C), about 1 1/2 hours more.
  7. Transfer turkey to a large serving platter. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

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