How to Roast a Turkey

My hope is that after you read this post and watch the video, if you would like to, you will learn how to roast a turkey that is perfect, moist and loaded in flavor. I know that if it is your first time this task can seem daunting and plain scary. But it does not have to be. There are a few rules of thumb to follow and you will end up with a perfect turkey all the time.

This particular turkey was prepared in a wet brine. A wet brine is a solution that is composed of about 35% salt. It is usually made with water but can be made with beer or wine. Most of the time a wet brine will also include sugar and spices like bay leaves and peppercorns.

By soaking your turkey in a solution the salt in the brine will relax the protein in the muscle and allow the liquid to seep into the meat. This will add moisture to the turkey — especially the breast.

Having said that, this recipe on how to roast a turkey will work perfectly well on a Kosher turkey — no need to prepare it further. Those turkeys are already injected with a solution in order to keep the bird as moist as possible.

One last thing, this method and timing will not work if you have a dry brined turkey. I have another post on how to roast a turkey that has been prepared with a dry brine. The times are slightly different.

You need to remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it and then pat dry it well with paper towels. Make sure you don;t miss the inside of the thighs and under the wings. Dry that bird thoroughly.

I then like rubbing the inside of the breast meat and all of the outer skin with a mixture of garlic salt, sage and freshly ground black pepper. I never stuff my bird as I find that it takes too long to cook and dries up the meat.

However, I like to place a quartered, seeded red apple, a quartered, medium yellow onion, 2 celery stalks halved and 1 carrot halved into the cavity. I find this enhances the flavor overall. I then tie the legs with kitchen twine. Once that is done the turkey must sit at room temperature for 25 minutes. This is very important because if you start roasting it while it is still cold it will not cook uniformly.

In the interim, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You are going to cook your turkey at this temperature, breast side down, for one hour.

Remove the bird from the oven and baste it with a melted stick of butter mixed with 1 teaspoon ground sage and salt and pepper. Flip it over in the roasting pan so that you now have it breast side up. You can use a long fork for this but I find that the easiest way to flip a hot turkey is by using a couple of clean dish towels. Please be careful not to burn yourself.

Lower the heat in your oven to 375 degrees and cook the turkey until a thermometer registers 175 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh.

Make sure to baste the turkey every hour with the pan juices. Cover it with foil of it is getting too dark. This turkey was 15 pounds and it cooked for four hours. I tented it the last hour.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let it sit for 40 minutes before carving it so that the juices readjust themselves. Serve and enjoy a nice piece of tasty, juicy and scrumptious turkey!

Print the Roasted Turkey Recipe Here

My name is Mary Ann Allen and I am here to help you get organized so you can save money on groceries and feed your family healthy, nutritious food. My multi-cultural cooking background comes from being born in the US and raised in Bolivia. I have 5 kids and own around 400 cook books. I absolutely love to cook!


  • November 7, 2009

    Rene Fernandez

    Lovely done! Kudos, MaryAnn!

  • November 7, 2009


    Thank you Rene! Thanks for coming by!

  • November 24, 2009


    I love the way you coock! thank you, I always check your webside.

  • November 24, 2009


    Thank you Lillian! I really appreciate you coming by. Happy Thanksgiving!
    Mary Ann

  • November 18, 2011


    Hi Mary Ann!! First of all I want to tell you that you are my savior. We are newly weds and thanks to you my husband thinks I’m a great cook 🙂

    But today I need your help more than anything!! We are going to gather with friends and I’m doing the turkey the stuffing and gravy. But I saw that in your video the turkey is 15 pounds mine is over 25!!! What do I do?? Do I use more ingredients?? Do I have to cook it longer than 4 hours?? Now I am so lost starting from brining do I use more quantity of ingredients? Or should I use all the same as your video?? Helpp!! I don’t want to ruin this thanksgivings 🙁

  • November 18, 2011


    No worries sweetie pie! Everything will be perfect! Let’s see – first of all when you brine a turkey you want it to be completely submerged so you will have to add some more salt, brown sugar and spices to the extra water. I you are going to stuff the turkey you will definitely need to make more. However, if you do not stuff it, the quantity you make will depend on how many people you have.

    Now, about the cooking. You will definitely have to cook this for longer. You have to calculate that a bird that big will probably cook for about six hours. You will have to check it after 5 1/2 hours by inserting a meat thermometer in the deepest part of the turkey thigh 180 degrees. If you stuff it the center of the stuffing should register 165 degrees. Just make sure you tent it loosely with foil once the skin starts browning so it does not over brown or burn.

    Your turkey will be perfect! Don’t worry about it. Just start it with time, relax and be happy! Remember that your turkey needs to sit for a good 30 minutes before you carve it because that way the juices have time to settle. Good luck!

  • November 21, 2012

    Carlo Garcia

    Deicioso, lo preparare para navidad. Saludos!

  • November 22, 2012


    hi Mary Ann i tried your brine and recipe and it turned out great. this was my first thanksgiving and it was hit thanks to you. Thank You!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!! hope you had a good one.

  • November 26, 2013



    I have a 13 lb frozen butterball turkey that I am thawing using cold water. I would like to know if im interested in cooking with my convection oven setting, what would that be? Would it still be the setting that you recommend with 400 degrees for an hour breast side down and 375 there after with basting every hour? Also is this turkey okay to brine? Because it doesnt say its kosher on the package. And one more question sorry…is trussing necessary? I have twine, but was just wondering…

    Thank You and have a happy thanksgiving!

  • November 26, 2013


    Hi Antoinette!
    I am afraid I really do not know that answer. I have never owned a convection oven. You are going to have to do some research and see what the time difference is between a normal one and yours. I know that convection ovens cook food a little faster and that they are awesome and that I wish I had one but that is it. Sorry!

    If the turkey has not been prepared with a solution you can brine it. It should say ‘turkey’ only on the package and you are fine to go. Trussing is really up to you. Some people think that it is not a good thing because it prevents the thigh from cooking in a uniform way. I personally always tie up my turkey.

    I never stuff it when I cook it but if you do I think trussing is a good idea! Thank you very much for stopping by! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

    Mary Ann