Turkey Roasting Tips

It’s turkey time!

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday for cooking. Thanksgiving isn’t quite Thanksgiving for me without having the joy of all the food preparation. I like to plan a menu with most of the traditional sides and a few new and more unconventional sides, but of course, the turkey is most important of all!

Place turkey (breast up) in your roasting pan. Kimberly Baker, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Place turkey (breast up) in your roasting pan.
Kimberly Baker, ©2020, Clemson Extension

There is nothing like the satisfaction of taking that aromatic, golden-brown turkey out of the oven and serving moist and flavorful slices of turkey to my family. It is a ceremonious moment! However, there are several steps to follow to achieve a perfectly roasted and delicious turkey. I’ve talked to several people over the years who are quite intimidated by roasting a turkey. It is easy to do as long as you follow these tips:

  1. Ensure that the turkey is fully defrosted (refrigerator thawing is best and takes 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds).
  2. Season well. There are several ways to season a turkey, depending on your preference: wet brine, dry brine, or seasoning at the time of roasting. I have limited refrigerator space, so this usually leads me to season my turkey just before roasting. I like to give my turkey a light coating of canola oil or melted butter, also getting the oil or butter up under the turkey breast’s skin. I then season the turkey with a mixture of salt, pepper, rubbed sage, onion powder, and paprika. Feel free to experiment with your spice mixture! I also like to add coarsely chopped apples, celery, onions, and carrots in the turkey’s cavity for extra flavor.
  3. Place turkey (breast up) in your roasting pan. To ensure that the bottom of the turkey is crispy, place it on a roasting rack in your pan; or do what I do, and fill the bottom of your pan with a combination of the chopped apples, celery, onions, and carrots used in the step above. This lifts the turkey off the bottom of the pan and gives more flavor to the drippings used to make your gravy later!
  4. Roast at 325 °F (see HGIC 3560, How to Cook a Turkey for roasting times).
  5. When the skin begins to brown, cover the turkey loosely with foil to prevent it from over-browning while the meat continues to cook.
  6. Avoid opening the oven door as much as possible. The more the door is opened, the longer the turkey will need to cook.
  7. Basting can be done a few times during the roasting time, but again consider how often and how long the oven door remains open during this time. This may extend cooking time significantly.
  8. The turkey is done when the minimum internal temperature of the thigh reaches 165 °F. Be sure that the thermometer probe does not come in contact with bone or the roasting pan.
  9. Remove the turkey from the oven. Cover with additional foil to keep hot and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes.
  10. Carve and ENJOY!
Turkey ready to carve and enjoy! Kimberly Baker, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Turkey ready to carve and enjoy!
Kimberly Baker, ©2020, Clemson Extension

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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