A roasted turkey that has crispy skin and a deep brown color, on a large platter surrounded by fresh sage leaves.

How to Roast Turkey Perfectly (Recipe)

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American


A miraculous technique for roasting turkey using aluminum foil smeared with butter to protect the breast from intense heat, while basting it. The recipe below assumes that you have not brined the turkey. If you are brining it, see the info above for more details on what to change here. The cooking times and nutritional values given are for a 10 pound turkey feeding 10 people.


Units Scale
  • 1 thawed turkey, 8-24 pounds
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • Several sprigs of fresh herbs such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, tied in a bundle with kitchen twine
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Aluminum foil
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened


  1. Take turkey out of the refrigerator. Remove packaging, and remove giblets.*
  2. Pat dry with paper towel. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. Loosely fill the cavity of the turkey with onion, celery, carrot and the herb bundle.
  5. Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl, then sprinkle it all over the outside of the turkey. Depending on the size of the turkey, you may not need all of it.
  6. Get out a piece of aluminum foil that is larger than the top surface of your turkey. Smear the butter all over one side of it. Press the buttered side of the foil all over the the top surface of the turkey so that it has good contact all over.
  7. Arrange an oven-safe rack in a roasting pan large enough to hold your turkey. Put the turkey with the buttered foil on the rack.**
  8. Place the turkey into the oven and cook for 11-15 minutes per pound (see roasting times chart above). Once or twice during the roasting time, remove the turkey from the oven, remove the foil, use a spoon to baste juices from the pan all over the turkey, then put the foil back in place and return the turkey to the oven.
  9. Begin testing the internal temperature of the middle of the breast and middle of the thigh, being sure to not touch bone, using an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes before the lower range of the times given. When the turkey is at 145°F, remove the foil so that the skin can brown and crisp during the last bit of cooking. 
  10. Continue to cook the turkey until the internal temperature is 155°F.
  11. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for 30 – 45 minutes. While it rests, use the drippings to make gravy.
  12. After it has rested and the internal temperature has raised to at least 165°F, carve the turkey and serve it immediately.

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*See above under Step#1: Take It Out Of The Fridge what you can do with the giblets.

**If you don’t have an oven-safe rack, you can put a few whole uncooked carrots or ribs of celery under the turkey to allow the hot air to circulate. You won’t be eating these but they will actually add some flavor to your gravy. A halved onion can go under there too!