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Tender, juicy, and intensely flavorful, this is the Best Thanksgiving Turkey recipe you will ever make! Citrus, herbs, and a hearty slathering of garlic butter make this the best no-brine recipe around.
- Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
- 🧈 Garlic Butter Sauce
- 🦃 How big of a turkey should I buy?
- 🌡 What temperature do you cook a turkey?
- How Long to Cook a Turkey
- How to Make Turkey Gravy
- How to Carve a Turkey
- ❄ How to Defrost a Turkey
- How long is leftover turkey good for?
- 📖 What to Do with Leftovers
- 📖 Juiciest Turkey Recipes
- 📌 Pin it for later!
- 📋 Recipe
Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
Every time I make this juicy garlic butter turkey, I get asked for the recipe. And every time, I am happy to admit how easy it is! It’s the easiest oven-roasted turkey to make, but is absolutely packed with flavor from herby garlic butter sauce and citrus stuffing.
What I love most about this dish is that it’s a no-brine recipe. Roasting the perfect bird may seem intimidating, but follow my easy step-by-step instructions on how to cook a turkey, you’re guaranteed to serve the best dinner on the block.
Trust me, your family and friends will rave about it. I never hear the end of it after making this dish every year, and I love it every time!
🧈 Garlic Butter Sauce
The secret to making this the best recipe ever is our garlic butter sauce. It’s so easy to make – just mix herbs, garlic, and butter following our instructions – but the flavor is amazing.
You will want to put this rub on everything. I know I do!
Try our Garlic Butter Sauce for this dish!
🦃 How big of a turkey should I buy?
You will need approximately 1½ lbs. per person.
Add up how many people you plan to feed and tack on a few extra pounds to account for the bones. This will give you your weight with leftovers to spare.
🌡 What temperature do you cook a turkey?
Start at 425°F for the first 30 minutes.
This will ensure crispy skin and lock in the moisture in order to cook the juiciest bird ever!
After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
How Long to Cook a Turkey
- 12 pounds: ~1½ hours
- 15 pounds: ~2½ to 3 hours
- 20 pounds: ~4½ to 5 hours
How to Make Turkey Gravy
- To make gravy from drippings, place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat (or transfer juices to the saucepan if you prefer).
- Add 2 cups of the remaining broth to the pan drippings and bring to a simmer. Skim off all but 1-2 tablespoons of the fat, depending on the size of your bird.
- Combine milk and flour in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
- Whisk the milk mixture into the gravy and simmer, stirring continuously until the gravy thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
At this point, you can carve the bird and serve it with the gravy. Or, make it the star of the show by placing it in the middle of your table on a platter.
Garnish the platter with citrus fruits, sliced, whole, and halved, and sprigs of fresh herbs.
How to Carve a Turkey
- Place on a cutting board. Remove the twine around the legs using your knife.
- Remove the legs by cutting through the area that connects the breast and the drumstick. Use your knife to slice down until you reach the joint. Then, using a paper towel, grab the leg and push down. This will separate the leg and thigh from the bird. Use your knife to slice through the joint.
- Remove the drumstick by separating the drumstick and the thigh by cutting through the joint area connecting them. Place the drumstick on a platter. Set aside the thigh meat to slice later.
- Find the wishbone at the front center of the breast. Use your fingers to pull it out. Removing the wishbone makes it easier to carve the breast meat, so don’t skip this step.
- Find the breastbone and place your knife on one side of it, and slice down close to the bone. As you are slicing, use your other hand to pull the meat from the breastbone. This will help you take the breast in one piece. Set aside the whole breast to slice later.
- Using your knife, slice through the joint to remove a wing. Place the wings on the platter.
- Hold the thigh bone with tongs or a paper towel, and remove the meat from the bone with your knife. Place the meat on the platter.
- Use tongs to hold the breast in place, then place the meat on the cutting board so you can cut it at a shorter length. Slice the breast against the grain. Trust us, this will make a huge difference. Make sure to keep the skin attached. Place the slices on a platter.
❄ How to Defrost a Turkey
How to Thaw a Turkey in the Refrigerator
- We recommend placing it in a large roasting pan. This will catch any juices that may leak. You can also use a large baking dish.
- Place in the refrigerator: Make sure there is nothing touching the bird. Give it some space so it has room to thaw!
- Thaw: Total thawing time will depend on the size of your bird. Allow about 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
- 4 to 12-pounds: 1 to 3 days.
- 12 to 16-pounds: 3 to 4 days.
- 16 to 20-pounds: 4 to 5 days.
- 20 to 24-pounds: 5 to 6 days.
How to Quick Thaw a Turkey
- Place in a large plastic bag: This will protect it from the water.
- Place in a large pot: Make sure the bird completely fits inside the pot. A large bucket will also work.
- Fill the pot with cold water: Do not use warm water, only cold water.
Change the water every hour, and continue until thawed. Allow about 30 minutes for every pound.
- 4 to 12-pounds: 2 to 6 hours
- 12 to 16-pounds: 6 to 8 hours
- 16 to 20-pounds: 8 to 10 hours
- 20 to 24-pounds: 10 to 12 hours
How long is leftover turkey good for?
You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.
Go ahead and put your leftovers in the fridge as soon as possible once you’re finished with your meal to keep them fresh!
📖 What to Do with Leftovers
📖 Juiciest Turkey Recipes
Give our Best Turkey Rub Recipe a try, too!
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Did you try this recipe? Leave a comment and a rating below to let us know what you think! We love to hear from you!
Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
- Roasting Pan with Rack (large enough for your turkey)
- Baking Twine
- Turkey Baster (optional)
- 12-20 lb turkey
- Garlic butter
- 1 Orange halved
- 1 Lemon halved
- 1 Onion halved
- Several sprigs of fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme
- Baking twine
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tbsp flour
- Preheat your oven to 425°F with the rack in the lower third of the oven. Rinse and pat turkey dry with paper towels. Remove neck and giblets, gravy packet, or any packages inside the cavities of the bird. Check the large cavity as well as the neck cavity. For the turkey seasoning, you will need to make our Garlic Butter Rub. It’s just 3 ingredients and takes only a few minutes to mix together!
- Carefully lift up the skin, separating it from the breast as much as you can. The back of a spoon works well for this. Season underneath with garlic butter. Rub the outer skin all over with more garlic butter. You don’t have to use it all: the leftover butter is perfect for buttering rolls, or on vegetables, or potatoes! You can also freeze the extra.
- Stuff the cavity with the orange, lemon, onion, and herbs.
- Tie the legs with cooking twine and transfer to a rack set inside a roasting pan. Tuck the wings underneath so they don’t burn – this is important!Pour 2 cups chicken broth into the roasting pan and transfer to the oven.
- Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. After the first hour of roasting the turkey, baste it every 30 minutes. Tent the turkey with foil if the skin becomes deep golden brown before the turkey is cooked through. You can also cover just the parts that are browning too quickly.
- Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh joint registers 160°F. Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a carving board. The turkey will continue cooking and should reach 165°F. Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
- Turkey Breast: You can use a turkey breast in place of a whole turkey for this recipe.
- Garlic Butter: Trust us, once you try this garlic butter spread on your turkey, you will never go back to traditional roasting. It makes the juiciest turkey you will ever try.
- Carving Turkey: When carving the turkey, find the wishbone at the front center of the breast. Use your fingers to pull it out.
- Slicing Turkey: Slice the turkey breast against the grain. Trust us, this will make a huge difference.
- How long to cook a turkey:
- 12-pound turkey: approximately 1½ hours
- 15-pound turkey: approximately 2½ to 3 hours
- 20-pound turkey: approximately 4½ to 5 hours