turkey on farm at sunset

Turkey Cooking Recipe (traditional)

Traditional 325 Degree F. (163 celsius) Turkey Cooking Recipe ...

For each roast turkey cooking recipe it is best to start with a clean oven. This evens out the hot and cool spots and helps to make cooking more even. You have selected your turkey you have thawed it and brined it if necessary and desired. Rinse the turkey inside and out, and dry it with a kitchen towel.

We are not advocates of stuffing turkeys. The stuffing can be made successfully outside of the bird. We do like to add aromatics and for this recipe we will also add spices. If you introduced lots of flavor earlier when you brined the turkey you can omit the spices.

For this turkey cooking recipe you will need the following:


2 onions quartered
2 carrots cut into chunks
2 celery stalks cut into chunks
1 lemon quartered


garlic powder
black pepper


A plastic bag big enough to hold the turkey (for the optional dry brining)
A roasting pan with a roasting rack
Aluminum foil


If your turkey isn't self basting or kosher or otherwise pre-salted, and if you haven't brined the turkey consider dry brining the night before as part of this turkey cooking recipe. This is almost as easy as just adding spice to the bird. You can dry brine for up to 24 hours but just overnight will improve the taste.

If you decide not to brine, just use the following spice mixture.

Spice mixture

6 parts garlic powder
2 parts paprika
2 parts black pepper

About 10 tablespoons of this spice mixture will be enough for about a 24 pound turkey. Rub the turkey inside and out with the spice mixture. Put the aromatics in the turkey cavity. Place the turkey in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until time to cook.

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 this turkey cooking recipe? Click here for timing charts. But remember timing is an estimate. A 14 lb. (6.5 kg) turkey may take 16 minutes per pound (per 1/2 kg). A 20 lb. (9 kg) turkey may take 14 minutes per pound (per 1/2 kg), and a turkey weighing more than 20 lbs.(9 kg) may take 13 minutes per pound(1/2 kg).

Always check the internal temperature much earlier than you expect the turkey to be done.

Preheat and Prepare

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F(163 degrees celsius).

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and remove the plastic bag from the turkey. If you haven't removed the giblet bag, remove it now.

The following recommendation is unconventional. You can leave it out of this turkey cooking recipe if you prefer. If you don't perform this step the bird will make a slightly better presentation at the table before carving, but if you do perform the step all parts of the turkey will be done at closer to the same time. We have found this to be especially beneficial with heritage turkeys where the breast meat tends to get done sooner than the legs particularly where they meet the body of the bird.

The socket joint where the leg meets the body is the last to heat sufficiently. To get heat to this section faster: 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.

Place one onion and all the lemon, and the parsley into the turkey cavity.

Brush or spray 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 up on the rack in the roasting pan.


Place your roasting pan in the preheated oven.

Wash your work area, equipment, including that towel that you dried the turkey with and your hands.

Place the turkey in the 325 degree F. (163 degree celsius) oven and let it roast for two-thirds of the cooking time. The turkey should be a light golden brown.

Make a tent of aluminum foil over the breast. Crease the foil in the center then open it up into a "tent" place it over the breast not in contact with the breast any more than necessary. Your turkey is camping not wearing a breastplate.

Watch the turkey's temperature. It can rise quickly near the end of the cooking time. Keep an eye on your oven safe meat thermometer beginning earlier than you expect the turkey to be done. Remember no turkey cooking recipe can confidently predict the time of the finish temperature of the bird.

Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the turkey breast measured half way down is 160 degrees F (71 degrees celsius).

Did you notice that you didn't need to baste? You don't need to.

Check the temperature of the thighs. If they have not reached 155 degrees F (68.5 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).

Return Home


Copyright © 2009 - 2019 The Perfect Turkey
Copyright © 2009 - 2019 The Perfect Turkey
Return to top