Learn how to cook a turkey with this Easy Thanksgiving Turkey recipe! It’s the best roasted turkey recipe with herb butter, plus tips for baking a turkey.
This post is sponsored by the National Turkey Federation. As always, opinions are my own.
We love easy no fuss Thanksgiving dinners. Cooking an entire turkey doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s as easy as stuffing the bird with a few seasonings, rubbing it with butter and then roasting it in the oven. Our Easy Thanksgiving Turkey recipe is quick and easy to prep. You don’t need any fancy tools or ingredients, just a few fresh flavors, a turkey and a roasting pan.
Are you making a turkey for the first time? Make sure to read our turkey tips towards the bottom of this page!
Easy thanksgiving turkey recipe
This recipe is for anyone and everyone. It doesn’t get any easier. Thanksgiving turkey should be moist and packed with flavor. Turkey soaks in the flavor of whatever marinades or seasonings it’s cooked with, so we recommend a few of our favorite seasonings – lemon, onion, garlic, thyme, parsley, sage and rosemary.
How to cook a turkey
- First, remove the turkey from the packaging and place it on a roasting pan. Remove the giblets from the inside of the turkey and pat the turkey dry with a paper towel.
- Next, season the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Stuff it with herbs, lemon, onion and garlic.
- Rub the outside of the turkey with herb butter. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
- Roast until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer.
- Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes, then slice and serve.
Herb butter for turkey
Coat turkey in an herb butter for the best texture and flavor. Simply spread the butter over the entire turkey. To make the butter, mix together the following ingredients. Use fresh herbs, if possible, but you can also substitute dried herbs.
- Unsalted butter, softened
How long does it take to cook a turkey?
For a whole fresh turkey, roast for 10 to 15 minutes per pound at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For a defrosted turkey, plan for 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. If you cook your turkey at higher or lower temperatures, you will need to adjust your cooking time.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure your turkey reaches the safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature in at least three places. We recommend checking the (1) innermost part of the thigh, (2) thickest part of the breast and (3) the innermost part of the wing.
Other tips for cooking turkey
- Allow 1 pound of turkey per person, when selecting a turkey. For bigger eaters (or more leftovers), allow for 1 1/2 pounds – 2 pounds per person.
- DO NOT rinse your turkey! Rising leads to the spread of bacteria in your kitchen.
- Wash your hands after handling raw turkey. Disinfect any surfaces or containers that you may have touched along the way.
- Cook your stuffing or dressing separate from the turkey. If you absolutely must stuff the turkey, make sure the stuffing reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit as well.
- Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes after removing from the oven before carving to allow the juices to set.
Thaw or defrost a turkey – two ways!
- Refrigerator – Thaw a turkey by placing it into a container on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of bird weight when thawing in the refrigerator.
- Cold water – Place a turkey in a leak proof bag. Submerge it into cold water and change the water every 30 minutes.
Refrigerator the leftover turkey within two hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze the turkey for use over the next several weeks.
Take the stress out of preparing Thanksgiving dinner by making this easy recipe. It’s easy, delicious and everyone loves it. Serve the turkey with some of our other favorite Thanksgiving recipes.
Before you cook the bird, check out more turkey recipes and cooking tips at ServeTurkey.org! Follow @ServeTurkey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more recipes and tips.
- Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Delicata Squash
- Garlic Green Beans
- Roasted Pears
- Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole
- Roasted Sweet Potato, Beet, Apple Salad
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts
- Dinner Rolls
Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
- 1 fresh turkey 12-15 pounds
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch fresh thyme, rosemary and sage (bouquet garni)
- 1 whole lemon halved
- 1 yellow onion quartered
- 1 head garlic halved crosswise
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh sage finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the turkey from its packaging and place it on a large roasting pan. Clean the inside of the turkey, remove the giblets and then pay the bird dry with paper towels.
Generously seasoning the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the herb bunch, lemon halves, onion and garlic.
For the herb butter:
In a small mixing bowl, mix together the softened butter and herbs until well combined.
Rub the outside of the turkey all over with the herb butter, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Truss the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
Roast the turkey at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and continue cooking for 2 to 2 1/2 hours (depending on the size), or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Slice turkey and serve.
- You can substitute all of the fresh herbs for 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning.