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Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe - High Heat

Oven Roasted Turkey: Turkey in Two Hours?

Our preferred oven roasted turkey recipe is what is often referred to as the "High Heat Method." This is the method that has also been called the "two hour turkey."

Your turkey might not be done in two hours. Depending its size and the temperature of the bird when it was put into the oven, it could be done in even less than two hours. It may take quite a bit longer if your oven roasted turkey is large, but it will certainly be done more quickly than lower heat methods.

Why doesn't this method dry out the oven roasted turkey? Because the turkey is in the oven for less time. This method is quick and easy, producing a juicy and flavorful result with good texture.

Is there a downside? Very little.

Don't be put off by the fact that it can be a bit messy and can produce some smoke. (We suggest measures to reduce the smoke and mess.) This high heat oven roasted turkey technique does require good ventilation, even opening a window a crack will help. You may have to temporarily disable a smoke detector near the kitchen, but DON'T FORGET TO RE-ENABLE YOUR SMOKE DETECTOR AFTER YOU REMOVE YOUR TURKEY FROM THE OVEN!

Smoke will be reduced or eliminated if you start with a clean oven. So if you have a self cleaning oven and your oven has been used, run the self cleaning cycle the day before cooking your turkey, otherwise just clean your oven with an oven cleaner.

Oven Roasted Turkey - the Recipe

Okay, we have a clean oven, a thawed and brined turkey between 14 and 30 lbs. (6.5 and 14 kg.) You removed it from the brine rinsed it inside and out, and dried it with a kitchen towel.

You will need the following:

2 onions quartered
2 carrots cut into chunks
2 celery stalks cut into chunks
1 lemon quartered
1 head of garlic cut in half crosswise
vegetable or canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Chicken or turkey stock for basting

A roasting pan with a roasting rack
Aluminum foil

Test the position of the roasting pan and rack so that turkey will be centered in the oven.

Timing the Turkey

How long will it take to make an oven roasted turkey? Click here for US timing charts Click here for Metric timing charts. But remember timing is an estimate. A 14 lb.(6.5 kg) turkey may take 9 minutes per pound (per 1/2 kg). A 20 lb. (9 kg) turkey may take 10 minutes per pound (per 1/2 kg), and a turkey weighing more than 20 lbs.(9 kg) may take 11 minutes per pound (per 1/2 kg).

Because there are so many factors involved you need to leave a margin of error (hors d'oeuvres anyone?). Always check the internal temperature much earlier than you expect the turkey to be done.

Preheat and Prepare

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. (232 degrees celsius).

If you brined the turkey, you have already removed the cryovac wrap and the giblet bag containing the neck, liver, craw, and the heart. If you didn't brine remove these now.

Next, cut the leg to accelerate the cooking time for this area. One of the biggest problems with turkeys is the fact that legs and breast can cook at different rates, and the point where the thigh socket meats the body is the last section to heat sufficiently. Using the following technique will help overcome this: 1) cut through the thigh at the point where it attaches to the body of the bird; 2) expose the ball and socket joint; and, 3) carefully remove some of the connective tissue, but do not sever the leg.

Lightly pepper the turkey inside and out.

Place one onion and all the garlic, into the turkey cavity.

Brush the turkey all over with oil.

Place one onion, both carrots and both celery stalks in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Place the turkey breast down on the rack in the roasting pan.


Place your roasting pan in the preheated oven.

Wash your work area, equipment, and hands.

Roast the turkey for one hour.

Remove the turkey from oven (close oven door to retain heat).

Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F. (204 degrees celsius).

Turn the oven roasted turkey breast side up using a clean dish towel or two. (Ask someone to help if you have a large turkey.)

Baste the turkey with chicken or turkey stock this only helps with browning.

Return the turkey to the oven.


Now you have to pay attention.

Don't open the oven more than necessary (use the oven door window if you have one), but watch the breast browning - the roasting pan juices - and the temperature of the turkey.

If the breast begins to brown too much, cover it with tented aluminum foil. Cut a piece of foil, crease it in the center (fold it in half), then open the sides to make a tent. Cover the turkey with this foil tent so that the breast browning will be retarded. (No need to worry, since it is tented above the breast the foil will not cause the turkey to steam instead of roast.)

Also watch that the pan juices do not evaporate. Add stock to the pan if they begin to dry up.

Especially watch the turkey's temperature. It can rise quickly near the end of the cooking time. Test it frequently, beginning earlier than you expect the turkey might be done.

Take the oven roasted turkey out when the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F to 160 degrees F (69 to 71 degrees celsius) when measured about halfway down in the breast.

Transfer the turkey to a carving board.

Check the temperature of the thighs. If they have not reached 155 degrees F (69 degrees celsius), cut them from the body and return them to the oven to finish cooking. (Watch the temperature of the thighs closely if you have returned them to the oven.)

Cover the turkey loosely with tented aluminum foil. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes. While resting, the internal temperature will rise 10 degrees F(5.5 degrees celsius) to the new USDA recommended internal temperature of 165 degrees F. (74 degrees celsius).

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